Study Reinforces Vitamin D Link to Lower Blood Pressure

April 5, 2011

Researchers at the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute are bolstering the research behind vitamin D and improved heart health and blood pressure.

Researchers at the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute are bolstering the research behind vitamin D and improved heart health and blood pressure.

Emory cardiovascular researcher Ibhar Al Mheid, MD presented findings from a 554-subject trial on vitamin D and heart health at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans, which began last weekend. Al Mheid found that subjects who increased their vitamin D levels tended to improve vascular health and lower blood pressure.

“There is already a lot known about how vitamin D could be acting here,” said Al Mheid. “It could be strengthening endothelial cells and the muscles surrounding the blood vessels. It could also be reducing the level of angiotensin-a hormone that drives increased blood pressure-or regulating inflammation.”

Al Mheid’s team measured subject vitamin D status via 25-hydroxyvitamin D, a marker of dietary production and skin production of vitamin D. They concluded that 14% of subjects were vitamin D deficient and 33% of subjects were vitamin D insufficient.

Subjects who increased their vitamin D intake over a period of six months, either from dietary supplements or sun exposure, showed a trend towards improved heart health and lowered blood pressure. (Blood pressure was measured by inflating and removing blood pressure cuffs from the arms of subjects and measuring resulting blood flow changes with ultrasound.)

Subjects with unhealthy vitamin D levels were found to have stiffer arteries and poor blood function.

"We found that people with vitamin D deficiency had vascular dysfunction comparable to those with diabetes or hypertension," said Al Mheid.