vitamin D and heart diseaseAccording to a new study published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers demonstrated that vitamin D improves heart function in patients with chronic heart failure.

Heart failure affects more than 23 million people worldwide. This is significant because this is the first evidence that vitamin D supplementation can improve heart function of people with heart failure. These findings could make a significant difference in the care of heart failure patients.

These patients are often deficient in vitamin D because older people make less vitamin D in response to sunlight than younger people. In addition, many people avoid the sun due to the dangers of overexposure and those using sunscreen with reduce their production of vitamin D.

This study included over 160 patients who were already being treated for their heart failure using proven treatments including beta-blockers, ACE-inhibitors and pacemakers. The participants took a vitamin D supplement or placebo for one year. The patients who took vitamin D had an improvement in heart function which was not demonstrated in those who took the placebo.

These changes in heart function were measured by cardiac ultrasound. Researchers measured heart function by performing an echocardiogram and measuring the ejection fraction. The ejection fraction in healthy individuals is typically between 60% and 70%. In heart failure patients, the ejection fraction is significantly decreased. The patients in this study had an average ejection fraction of 26%.

The results demonstrated that those patients who took Vitamin D saw an improvement in heart function from 26% to 34%. In those who received the placebo saw no change in cardiac function. This confirms that vitamin D supplementation may decrease the risk for implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD). These are expensive and also involve an operation. This is a benefit to the patient’s overall health and the healthcare system.

I would also consider using a vitamin D supplement containing vitamin K or taking a vitamin K supplement in addition to vitamin D to optimize the level of each vitamin and prevent against arterial calcification. I find that most of individuals need anywhere from 4,000-10,000 IUs/day of vitamin D and then about 1-2 mg of vitamin K1 since most people do not eat enough vegetables to get enough vitamin K. This is also the amount that completely carboxylates osteocalcin and the amount most may need to convert to K2.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: “Effects of Vitamin D on Cardiac Function in Patients With Chronic HF: The VINDICATE Study” Klaus K. Witte, MD, FACC, FESC; Rowena Byrom, RN; John Gierula, BSc; Maria F. Paton,MSc, BSc; Haqeel A. Jamil, PhD; Judith E. Lowry, BSc, MSc; Richard G. Gillott, BSc; Sally A. Barnes, BSc, MSc; Hemant Chumun, RN; Lorraine C. Kearney, LC, RN; John P. Greenwood, PhD; Sven Plein, PhD; Graham R. Law, PhD; Sue Pavitt, PhD; Julian H. Barth, MD; Richard M. Cubbon, PhD; Mark T. Kearney, MD. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2016.03.508. April 4, 2016.

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