Vitamin D May Lessen Heart Risks, Ease Type 2 Symptoms

A low level of vitamin D in teenagers and young adults who have type 2 diabetes may put them at risk for arterial stiffness. Stiff arteries, that force the heart to beat harder to pump blood, are a known cardiovascular risk factor.

A pilot study at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center looked back at a study of adolescents aged 14 to 21 with type 2 that included patients with the condition, patients who did not have diabetes but were obese, and patients without diabetes with normal body weight. Participants with diabetes showed significantly more arterial stiffness.

This preliminary study needs follow-up with additional studies before conclusions are drawn. However, depending on outcomes, adding vitamin D to treatment regimens may turn out to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Other recent research shows that spending a few minutes in the sun every day might reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, and improve symptoms for those who’ve already been diagnosed with it.

In one study, Dr. Yiqing Song, ScD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues pooled data from 21 different studies with more than 75,000 participants and found that those who had higher levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in their blood were less likely to have type 2 diabetes.

In fact, for every increase of 10 nanomoles per liter inlevels of vitamin D, the risk of type 2 was reduced by about 4 percent.

“Our meta-analysis showed an inverse and significant association between circulating 25(OH)D levels and risk of type 2 diabetes across a broad range of blood 25(OH)D levels in diverse populations,” Song and colleagues concluded.

The study appeared in the American Diabetes Association journal Diabetes Care.

In another study, Vitamin D was shown to have a wide range of health benefits for women already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at the Loyola University Chicago Niehoff School of Nursing did a pilot study assessing 46 women with type 2 who also had low levels of vitamin D, and found that symptoms of depression and high blood pressure both saw improvement with vitamin D supplements. Participants were also able to drop a few pounds.

“Vitamin D supplementation potentially is an easy and cost-effective therapy, with minimal side effects,” said Sue M. Penckofer, PhD, RN, lead author of the study, adding that larger trials are needed to affirm the results.

Penckofer’s study was presented at a recent conference of the American Diabetes Association.

According to the Global Healing Center, foods that are high in Vitamin D include shiitake and button mushrooms, eggs and a range of fish including mackerel, sockeye salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, and catfish. It can also be found in cod liver oil, enriched milk, and orange juice.

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