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Vitamin D May Improve Heart’s Response to a Stressor

Over time, the heart’s physiological reactions to stress can take a toll on the cardiovascular system, and possibly increase the risk of heart disease. A recent study suggests that taking a daily supplement of vitamin D may improve the heart’s response to a stressor.

Participants in the study included 13 healthy men and women with vitamin D deficiency. Over the course of 28 days, they were given a daily dose of 5,000 IU of vitamin D. Blood levels of vitamin D increased to sufficient levels after 28 days.

Before starting the supplementation, the participants were exposed to a heart stressor which resulted in an unfavorable shift in the sympatho-vagal balance. The sympatho-vagal balance is the interaction between the part of the nervous system that raises blood pressure and heart rate and the vagus nerve. Disruption of this balance can lead to the development of a serious cardiovascular event.

After completing the supplement period, participants were again exposed to the same heart stressor. This time the sympatho-vagal balance was maintained following exposure. Additionally, improvements were seen in the cardiac autonomic tone, which refers to the heart’s ability to return to normal following a stressor.

Researchers form the University of Calgary, the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, and the Alberta Kidney Disease Network conducted the study. It was published on March 6, 2014, in American Journal of Hypertension.

Previous studies have associated vitamin D with reducing the risk of skin cancer, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, combating diabetes, and improving age related macular degeneration.

Vitamin D can be found in milk, fortified cereals, fish, and eggs. Your body also processes vitamin D from the sun but it becomes harder for our bodies to process it as we age. A high quality vitamin D supplement is always a good option if you feel that you’re not getting enough through diet and sun.

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