Two and a half years ago I attended a healthcare research conference where Dr. Brent Muhlestein, a cardiologist and researcher, shared some interesting findings on the benefits of Vitamin D.
Dr. Muhlestein and his team followed a group of patients over 50 and with no prior history of cardiovascular disease. They measured levels of Vitamin D during routine care visits and tracked new diagnoses of heart disease. They found that patients with very low levels of Vitamin D (< 15 ng/ml) were 1.77 times more likely to die, 1.45 times more likely to develop artery disease, 1.78 times more likely to have a stroke, and 2.00 times more likely to develop heart failure than patients with normal levels of Vitamin D (>30 ng/ml).
One year later I attended a research forum where Dr. Muhlestein again presented data on Vitamin D. In addition to the accumulating cardiovascular benefits, he presented other research showing that Vitamin D helped regulate other functions such as blood pressure and glucose control, and control inflammation, suggesting benefits for arthritis, hypertension, and diabetes, to name a few.
And six months ago when I happened to get on an elevator with Dr. Muhelstein, I asked him how his Vitamin D research was coming along. He said that things still looked promising and that it would be nice to have something as simple as Vitamin D to help them treat patients with cardiovascular disease. Currently many of his heart patients are on Vitamin D therapy.
How much Vitamin D should people take? Dr. Muhelstein pointed out that many people are Vitamin D deficient, and that for some, the 400 IU available in most multivitamins may not be enough. For now it seems that taking higher doses of Vitamin D does not put most people at risk. Even increasing Vitamin D intake to 1,000 to 5,000 IU a day may be appropriate if there are no health and genetic risks. It is not hard to find supplements with these higher doses nowadays. I’ve seen supplements with 2000 and even 5000 IUs per dose in my local supermarket.
How much Vitamin D should you be taking? That’s something to discuss with your doctor. If you have not yet heard of the newfound benefits of Vitamin D, chances are you could benefit from a prudent increase beyond what you are currently getting in your regular diet.