ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Spot light on Dani Antman New Lionheart teacher
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Healthy adults have potential autoimmune disease-causing cells
Improved Hip Implants Can Last 20 Years
Osteoporosis May Raise Risk for Vertigo
CANCER
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
CAREGIVING
Exercise During Pregnancy May Help Baby
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
DIABETES
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
DIET, NUTRITION
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Meat Additives May Be Dangerous for Kidney Patients
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Fertilizer Ban Makes a Difference
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
Exposure to 9/11 Fumes Tied to Chronic Headaches
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Test Could Spot Diabetes Vision Trouble Early
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
FITNESS
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Stressed and Exhausted: An Introduction to Adrenal Fatigue
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise Eases Obesity and Anger in Kids
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
MEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
SENIORS
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Add your Article

Vitamin D Vital for the Heart

By Ed Edelson
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- A lack of vitamin D, which is absorbed primarily through exposure to sunlight, helps boost the risk of heart attacks and strokes, new research finds.

"There are a whole array of studies linking increased cardiovascular risk with vitamin D deficiency," noted Dr. James H. O'Keefe, director of preventive cardiology at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City. "It is associated with major risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and stiffening of the left ventricle of the heart and blood vessels. Inflammation is really important for heart disease, and people with vitamin D deficiency have increased inflammation."

O'Keefe is the lead author of a review of such studies to be published in the Dec. 9 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Experts estimate that up to half of adults and 30 percent of children and teenagers in the United States are vitamin D-deficient, according to the report.

Recent data from the long-running Framingham Heart Study indicated that someone with vitamin D levels below 15 nanograms per milliliter of blood is twice as likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problem within two years as someone with the recommended 20 nanograms per milliliter, the report said.

Vitamin D is well known as the "sunshine vitamin" because human skin makes the nutrient upon exposure to sunlight. Only 10 minutes of exposure to sunlight between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day will be enough for whites to reach the recommended level, experts say. People with darker skins will need somewhat longer exposure. Sunscreen can also block vitamin D production, the experts add.

People must balance the risks and benefits of sun exposure, however. "A little bit of sunshine is a good thing, but the use of sunscreen to guard against skin cancer is important if you have more than 15 to 30 minutes of intense sunlight exposure," O'Keefe noted.

Some foods are also rich in vitamin D, he noted. "Salmon and other deepwater fish are good," O'Keefe said. "Also milk, which is supplemented with vitamin D. But you would have to drink 10 to 20 glasses of milk a day to get the recommended intake."

Recommended vitamin D intake is 200 international units a day up to age 50, 400 units for ages 50 to 70, and 600 units a day over the age of 70.

One way to reach that level is to pop a supplement, O'Keefe said. "There is strong evidence that supplementing vitamin D improves health."

"This is an important report," said Robert U. Simpson, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Michigan, whose group was the first to identify vitamin D receptors in heart cells. "It will help those interested in cardiovascular disease understand more about the vitamin D system."

Vitamin D is not just another vitamin, Simpson said. "It is a precursor to a hormone, and this prehormone is responsible for making a very important regulator of cardiovascular processes," he said.

Supplementation is an acceptable way of getting enough vitamin D, Simpson added. "Food is not really an option," Simpson said. "You don't get enough vitamin D in the foods we ordinarily eat. Supplementation is my preferred choice, although I get sunlight whenever the sun shines here in Ann Arbor."

More information

There's more on recommended levels of vitamins and other nutrients at the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements.



SOURCES: James H. O'Keefe, M.D., director, preventive cardiology, Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, Mo.; Robert U. Simpson, Pharm.D, professor, pharmacology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Dec. 9, 2008, Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Last Updated: Dec. 01, 2008

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