ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Stem Cells Might Treat Tough Fractures
Fall Sports Peak Time for Lower Leg Damage
Varicose, Spider Veins May Be Inevitable for Some
CANCER
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
CAREGIVING
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
With Alzheimer's, Health-Care Costs Could Triple
High Rate of Rehospitalizations Costing Billions
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
DIABETES
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
The Food Irradiation Story
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Freckles, Moles May Indicate Risk for Eye Cancer
Cats Can Trigger Eczema in Some Infants
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
Gene-Transfer Proves Safe for Vision Problem
FITNESS
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Healthy Living Adds Years to Life
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Spot light on Dani Antman New Lionheart teacher
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
SENIORS
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Natural Therapies for Menopause
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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