Vitamin D is essential for your heart by Dr. Joseph Mercola for Mercola
Vitamin D plays a significant role in several health conditions. It might be one of the simplest solutions to a wide range of problems. Despite the name, vitamin D belongs to a group of steroid molecules that are metabolized by the body in the liver and kidneys.1
According to the Vitamin D Council, your body undergoes numerous turns this molecule into a hormone that undergoes numerous changes during that process before it’s actually put to work managing calcium in your blood, bones and gut, and in helping your body’s cells communicate with each other.2
Vitamin D is optimally obtained through sun exposure, a small amount of food sources and supplementation. Since many dermatologists,3,4 other doctors and health care agencies like the CDC5began telling people to avoid the sun and to use liberal amounts of sunscreen before going outside, deficiency in vitamin D has reached epidemic proportions.6,7,8,9,10
While the justification for avoiding the sun is it may reduce your risk of skin cancer, vitamin D deficiency raises your risk for many other cancers,11,12,13 including skin cancer.14
We now understand more about vitamin D than ever before in history. Many people are realizing that several of the long-held recommendations on sun exposure and vitamin D are not accurate and have contributed to declining health.
One condition recently linked to low levels of vitamin D is high blood pressure in children. In a study published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, researchers found that deficiency in infancy may lead to high blood pressure in later childhood and teen years.15
Childhood vitamin D deficiency predicts high blood pressure
A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention16 showed 4% of those between 12 and 19 years had high blood pressure and another 10% had elevated blood pressure. An analysis of more than 12,000 participants led to these results using the 2017 clinical practice guidelines for high blood pressure.
Application of the new guidelines resulted in a net increase in the number of children and teens between 12 and 19 years with high blood pressure.17 High blood pressure may damage your heart and your health in many ways, including increasing your risk of heart failure and heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.18
Past research has demonstrated that low vitamin D levels in adults increases the risk of high blood pressure,19 but the degree to which it may affect children was unknown until a new study conducted at Boston Medical Center was published.20
In this study, researchers followed 775 children in ages ranging from birth to age 18 from 2005 to 2012 to investigate the effect vitamin D had on the development of high systolic blood pressure. For the purposes of the study,21 low vitamin D status was defined as less than 11 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) at birth and less than 25 ng/mL during early childhood.
The researchers22 compared those with low levels of vitamin D to children who were born with adequate levels. They found that children with low levels had about a 60% higher risk of elevated systolic blood pressure from ages 6 to 18.
Children who experienced persistently low levels throughout childhood were at double the risk of elevated systolic blood pressure between ages 3 and 18.23 Lead author Guoying Wang, Ph.D.,24 an assistant scientist at Johns Hopkins University, commented on the implications:25
“Currently, there are no recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to screen all pregnant women and young children for vitamin D levels. Our findings raise the possibility that screening and treatment of vitamin D deficiency with supplementation during pregnancy and early childhood might be an effective approach to reduce high blood pressure later in life.”