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The Secret to Vitamin D's Heart Health Properties

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer among diabetics. According to a recent study, vitamin D supplements may help improve their heart health.

The study was published online in the August 2009 issue of the journal Circulation.

Previous studies have found an increased risk of cardiovascular disease among vitamin D deficient diabetics, but no study has confirmed the mechanism behind these findings.

In an effort to confirm these findings, US researchers at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis obtained white blood cells from over 100 diabetics and non-diabetics, with and without vitamin D deficiency.

The researchers found that when people are deficient in vitamin D, these white blood cells take in more cholesterol than they can expel. These cells then become what scientists call "foam cells" which stiffen blood vessels and block blood flow, leading to atherosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels.)

However, when the researchers placed these white blood cells in a vitamin D rich environment, the uptake of cholesterol was suppressed and they never became foam cells.

These findings show that vitamin D supplementation may be a simple way to delay or potentially even reverse atherosclerosis in diabetics.

Vitamin D plays a vital role in the bodies of diabetics and non-diabetics alike. This crucial vitamin has been linked to better bone health, lower blood pressure, stimulation of the immune system and even protection against certain cancers

With a majority of Americans not getting enough vitamin D daily, you may want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement, especially as you age. Vitamin D deficiency becomes more and more of an issue as you grow older because your skin becomes less efficient at synthesizing the vitamin during exposure to the sun.

You can also get your vitamin D through foods such as fish, milk products and many cereals which either contain vitamin D naturally, or are fortified with the vitamin.

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