ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
Insight on Herbals Eludes Doctors, Patients Alike
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tips to Ease an Aching Back
Fractures in Older Adults Up Death Risk
CANCER
Omega-3 May Safely Treat Precancerous Bowel Polyps
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
CAREGIVING
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
Newborn Screenings Now Required Across U.S.
Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
DIABETES
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
DIET, NUTRITION
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Fruits, Vegetables, Teas May Cut Smokers' Cancer Risk
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
Vest Monitors 'Individual' Air Pollution
Seasons Arriving 2 Days Earlier, Study Says
EYE CARE, VISION
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
Vision Test for Young Children Called Unreliable
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
FITNESS
As Temperature Plummets, It's Still Safe to Exercise
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
'Organic' May Not Mean Healthier
Go To Work But Skip The Car
'Soda Tax' Wins Health Experts' Support
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure
B-Vitamins Help Protect Against Stroke, Heart Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Protect Your Kids From Swine Flu While at Camp
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
MEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
SENIORS
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
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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