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Report: Vitamin D Does Not Stop Heart Attack or Stroke

Authors find potential cardiovascular benefit for older people

Taking vitamin D tablets cannot ward off heart attacks or stroke, according to a new study by researchers at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. The report was published in the September 2014 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Recent studies have suggested a link between low vitamin D levels and an increasing number of conditions, including multiple sclerosis, diabetes, schizophrenia, and asthma. In addition, previous research found that people with low vitamin D are more likely to have cardiovascular disease.

The new study shows that taking vitamin D supplements does not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, there is a chance that it could protect against heart failure in older people.

The researchers looked at a trial involving more than 5,000 people 60 years of age or older. The subjects were given either a vitamin D supplement or placebo for up to 5 years. Cardiovascular events and mortality were assessed.

The investigators also combined data from 21 other randomized trials involving more than 13,000 people.

Lead researcher Dr. John Ford said: “Vitamin D is both a hormone and a nutrient in that it can be both made in the body when it is exposed to sunlight and obtained from the foods we eat.”

“It is known to have multiple and complex functions, and there has been a lot of interest in the possibility that a lack of vitamin D might predispose a person to higher rates of heart disease and stroke,” he added. “Several observational studies have provided evidence that cardiovascular patients tend to have lower circulating concentrations of vitamin D, but we have shown that this is not a causal relationship. Instead, vitamin D levels may be a marker for other risk factors, such as a sedentary lifestyle.

“There was, however, some evidence which suggested that the risk of dying from cardiac failure was lower among those taking a vitamin D supplement. There needs to be further research into whether a supplement could be beneficial.”

Source: University of East Anglia; August 26, 2014.

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