Daily vitamin D intake may be effective in lowering heart disease risk, improving exercise performance

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Nov 02, 2015 05:46 AM EST

DALY CITY, CA - MAY 19: A Target customer shops for vitamins at a Target store May 19, 2010 in Daly City, California. Target reported first quarter earnings up 29 percent to $671 million, or 90 cents a share, compared to $522 million, or 69 cents one year ago. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) (Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Between 2001 and 2006, about two-thirds of Americans were vitamin D deficient, the CDC reports. In fact, vitamin D deficiency was more prevalent in those who were younger, male, or non-Hispanic white. For women, the risk was greater in those who were pregnant or lactating. A new study presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Edinburgh shows that vitamin D supplements may have more health benefits than previously shown.

Chairman of Urology, Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and Professor of Urology at Hofstra School of Medicine Dr. David Samadi wrote in Huffington Post, "Vitamin D is arguably the most important vitamin you could take. Vitamin D is actually a hormone; it's not even a vitamin and it affects our entire body."

According to EurekAlert, a new study shows that the consumption of vitamin D supplements may improve the body's exercise performance and decrease the risk of heart disease. Researchers from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh studied 13 healthy adults who were matched by age and weight, and 50μg of vitamin D or placebo daily for 14 days.

Results showed that the adults who took vitamin D daily had lower blood pressure compared to those who were given placebo. The vitamin D consumers also had lower levels of placebo in their urine. Vitamin D has been known to block the action of enzyme 11-βHSD1, a requirement to make the "stress hormone" cortisol.

The researchers also conducted a fitness test in which results showed that the vitamin D group cycled 6.5 km in 20 minutes, compared to just 5 km at the beginning of the experiment. Apart from cycling 30% more in the same time, the vitamin D group also showed lower signs of physical exertion.

In theory, vitamin D may reduce cortisol that is already circulating around the body and improve exercise performance, at the same time lowering cardiovascular risk factors.

According to the study's co-author, Dr. Raquel Revuelta Iniesta, "Our pilot study suggests that taking vitamin D supplements can improve fitness levels and lower cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure. Our next step is to perform a larger clinical trial for a longer period of time in both healthy individuals and large groups of athletes such as cyclists or long-distance runners."

The Daily Mail also reports that according to study lead author Dr. Emad Al-Dujaili, "Vitamin D deficiency is a silent syndrome linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and a higher risk for certain cancers. Our study adds to the body of evidence showing the importance of tackling this widespread problem."

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