Arterial Stiffness As One of Major Cardiovascular Risk Factor
Numerous factors such as aging, and exposure to oxidative stress, glycation and inflammation - cause artery walls to lose their youthful elasticity and begin to behave more like stiff-walled pipes.
As a result, instead of buffering the rapid rise in pressure following a heartbeat, old, stiff arteries transmit that pulse wave fast and hard to the organs they feed.
Delicate organs, tissues and cells are hammered by large fluctuations in blood pressure and flow with each heartbeat, which is harmful to their normal function.
In addition to contributing to hypertension, heart attacks and strokes, arterial stiffness plays a role in kidney and liver disorders, type II diabetes, cognitive decline, and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Vitamin D has properties that help reduce oxidative stress, glycation and inflammation, suggesting that it may play a role in preventing the arterial stiffening induced by these age-accelerating events.
Vitamin D and Heart Health
Research shows a dangerous relationship between low vitamin D levels and heart failure, heart attacks, and high blood pressure. Low levels of vitamin D are also associated with cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, diabetes and lipid disturbances.
When vitamin D was administered to rats with high blood pressure, it helped keep their aortas loose, relaxed and able to move blood with minimal resistance.
This suggests that there's a connection between vitamin D and how blood vessels respond to changes in flow and pressure.
Compelling human studies show that vitamin D supplementation reduces arterial stiffness and blood pressure, directly reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Benefits for Healthy Individuals
Even otherwise healthy people who have deficient or insufficient vitamin D levels benefit from supplementation.
In 2 studies of vitamin D-deficient individuals, vitamin D3 supplementation significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It also reduced pulse wave and augmentation index.
A short study that used a modest dose of 2000 IU daily in health individuals produced impressive results. Compared to baseline, those who received vitamin D3 shows:
- Arterial stiffness dropped by 18%
- Systolic (top number) blood pressure fell by 8.2%, and
- Diastolic (bottom number) pressure fell by 9.1%
And, in a study of healthy, older adults with vitamin D deficiency, a single intramuscular injection of 100,000 IU triggered a significant reduction in arterial stiffness (measured by augmentation index).
The Overlook Heart-Healthy Vitamin
So here are the key points you can take:
- Arterial stiffness is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke
- Vitamin D has been shown to reduce arterial stiffness and may improve endothelial function
- A recent study found that vitamin D restores the balance between protective nitric-oxide