Low levels of vitamin D are known to nearly double the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes, and researchers now think they know why.
Diabetics deficient in vitamin D can't process cholesterol normally, so it builds up in their blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. New research has identified a mechanism linking low vitamin D levels to heart disease risk, and may lead to ways to fix the problem, simply by increasing levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D inhibits the uptake of cholesterol by cells called macrophages. When people are deficient in vitamin D, the macrophage cells absorb more cholesterol, and can't get rid of it. The macrophages get clogged with cholesterol and become what scientists call foam cells, which are one of the earliest markers of atherosclerosis.
Macrophages are dispatched by the immune system in response to inflammation and often are activated by diseases such as diabetes.
|Vitamin D Dose Recommendations
||35 units per pound per day
|Age 5 - 10
|Age 18 - 30
There is no way to know if the above recommendations are correct. The ONLY way to know is to test your blood. You might need 4-5 times the amount recommended above. Ideally your blood level of 25 OH D should be 60ng/ml.
Heart disease is one of the leading killers in the United States, so making sure you’re getting enough vitamin D is a step nearly everyone should be taking.
Low levels of vitamin D in your blood have long been correlated with higher risk of heart disease and heart attacks, and a previous study found women who take vitamin D supplements lower their risk of death from heart disease by one-third.
It’s also been suggested that the more sunlight you get, the better your cardiovascular health will be, as there are a number of physiological mechanisms triggered by vitamin D production through sunlight exposure that act to fight heart disease, such as:
An increase in your body's natural anti-inflammatory cytokines
The suppression of vascular calcification
The inhibition of vascular smooth muscle growth
Why this is Crucial to Know if You Have Type 2 Diabetes
Just about EVERYONE can benefit from optimizing their vitamin D levels, but if you have type 2 diabetes it is absolutely crucial that you do so.
Nearly 8 percent of the U.S. population, or 24 million people, has diabetes, and another 57 million have pre-diabetes, which puts them at an increased risk of the disease.
So one in five people in the US alone are in the diabetic group and can benefit from this approach.
Heart disease is extremely common in people with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association states that more than 65 percent of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke, and with diabetes, heart attacks occur earlier in life and often result in death.
If you have low vitamin D levels on top of type 2 diabetes, this can nearly double your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the study in Circulation above. This occurs because diabetics deficient in vitamin D can't process cholesterol normally, so it builds up in your blood vessels, increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Further, vitamin D deficiency is widespread around the world, but in women with type 2 diabetes, the likelihood of low vitamin D levels is about one-third higher than women without diabetes.
So not only do people with diabetes have an increased likelihood of heart disease, they also are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D -- a very slick double-edged sword.
The solution, fortunately, is extremely simple: optimize your vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D Can Boost Your Health All Around
Vitamin D is not “just a vitamin,” but rather the only known substrate for a potent, pleiotropic (meaning it produces multiple effects), repair and maintenance seco-steroid hormone that serves multiple gene-regulatory functions in your body.
There are only 30,000 genes in your body and vitamin D has been shown to influence about 3,000 of them. Receptors that respond to the vitamin have been found in almost every type of human cell, from your brain to your bones. And researchers keep finding health benefits from vitamin D in virtually every area they look.
Can vitamin D help you prevent cancer? You betcha.
Fight colds and the flu? Yes!
Help prevent obesity? It sure can.
Tackle depression, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis? Yes, yes and yes!
In fact, researchers have calculated that simply increasing levels of vitamin D could prevent diseases that claim nearly 1 million lives throughout the world each year, as the widespread vitamin D deficiency seen today is fueling an astonishingly diverse array of common chronic diseases.
Take Action Before it’s Too Late
Do you know what the most common symptom of heart disease is?
There are absolutely no indications of a problem, no signs like chest pain or shortness of breath. You simply have NO symptoms at all before getting struck by the chest pain that kills you.
There are more than 300,000 deaths EVERY YEAR in the U.S. alone from sudden cardiac death, which is a tragedy made even more upsetting because it is one that does NOT have to happen.
Heart disease, just like type 2 diabetes, is one of the easiest diseases to prevent and avoid, BUT you simply must be proactive.
One of the first steps you should take is to watch my one-hour free lecture on vitamin D, which will tell you what your optimal vitamin D levels should be along with how to safely get them there.
Next, assess your heart disease risk factors. If you have type 2 diabetes, you should know you’re at an increased risk already and simply move ahead to my recommendation below. For the rest of you, one of the most important risk factors will be your HDL to cholesterol ratio.
Keep in mind that your total cholesterol level is just about worthless in determining your risk for heart disease, unless it is close to 300 or higher. And, perhaps more importantly, you need to be aware that cholesterol is not the CAUSE of heart disease. If you become overly concerned with trying to lower your cholesterol level to some set number, you will be completely missing the real problem.
In fact, I have seen a number of people with levels over 250 who actually were at low heart disease risk due to their HDL levels. Conversely, I have seen even more who had cholesterol levels under 200 that were at a very high risk of heart disease based on the following additional tests:
HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your cholesterol. That percentage should ideally be above 24 percent. Below 10 percent, it’s a significant indicator of risk for heart disease.
You can also do the same thing with your triglycerides and HDL ratio. That percentage should be below 2.
What to Do if You’re at Risk
If you are at risk, please do make sure your vitamin D levels are where they need to be, then simply apply the Take Control of Your Health program. This will virtually eliminate your risk -- sometimes quite rapidly-- because it helps to significantly reduce inflammation in your body. And, keeping your inflammation levels low is key if you want to reduce your risk of heart disease.
As a plus, the program will also help you to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes. It’s a win-win situation, and a surprisingly simple way to drastically improve your health.
How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health
Additionally, a robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention. Vitamin D affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels, and vitamin D receptors have been found throughout the human body.
Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. It is showing how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.
In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. This was an ongoing campaign during the month of February, and will become an annual event.
To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)
As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey."