Now that heart disease has been identified as one of the leading causes of death in the world today, researchers are trying to find the best way to heal a diseased heart. Could vitamin D be what the heart needs?
BBC news reports on vitamin D for the heart.
New research shows that vitamin D can help heal a diseased heart.
How was the study conducted?
A group of researchers led a clinical trial on 163 heart failure patients. The mean age of participants in the study was 70 and, like many people of that age group, they had low levels of vitamin D in their body. They found supplements of the vitamin, ‘which is made in the skin when exposed to sunlight, improved their hearts' ability to pump blood around the body’.
The study participants were given either a 100 microgram vitamin D tablet or a sugar pill placebo each day for a whole year. Then experts measured the impact of the vitamin D and the placebo on heart failure. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart becomes too weak to pump blood properly into the body.
“The Leeds Teaching Hospitals team, who presented at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, described the results as stunning,” according to the BBC.
The British Heart Foundation is stating that longer trials should be conducted as well. Many people are Vitamin D deficient but it is vital for healthy bones and teeth and has important health benefits throughout the human body.
The researchers were mostly concerned with the key measure known as the ejection fraction- the amount of blood pumped out of the chambers of the heart with each beat. “In a healthy adult, the figure is between 60% and 70%, but only a quarter of the blood in the heart was being successfully pumped out in the heart failure patients. But in those taking the vitamin pills, the ejection fraction increased from 26% to 34%,” according to the BBC.
Researchers were surprised to find that the study also showed the patients' hearts became smaller. Is this a good thing? Researchers say this is an implication that they are becoming more ‘powerful and efficient’.
What are the guidelines in the UK?
Experts in the UK, advise that people over 65 take 10 microgram supplements of the vitamin.
Consultant cardiologist Dr. Witte told BBC News,
“It's quite a big deal, that's as big as you'd expect from other more expensive treatments that we use, it's a stunning effect. It's as cheap as chips, has no side effects and a stunning improvement on people already on optimal medical therapy, it is the first time anyone has shown something like this in the last 15 years.”
Researchers are saying that every cell in the body responds to Vitamin D. Natural ways to get vitamin D include: sunlight, fish, eggs and certain cereals.