We all know that vitamin D is beneficial to our bodies, but whether taking it as a supplement in addition to a healthy diet provides genuine health advantages has long been contested. According to the most recent research, such supplements may lessen the chance of having a heart attack.
While the study found just a minor increase in the chance of a “major cardiovascular event” while taking vitamin D, it is certainly valuable for learning about the interaction between these and other health factors.
According to the study’s principal author, epidemiologist Rachel Neale of Australia’s QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, it is the second largest study to date looking at vitamin D supplementation and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Consider it an inconclusive study about cause and effect, but with a large enough sample size – 21,302 patients aged 60 to 84 – that more work can now be done to examine the relationship in more depth.
“Our study found that vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events, and the protective effect may be greater in those taking statins and other heart disease medications,” Neale said.
“This suggests that further research is needed into this.”
For up to five years, study participants were given either a vitamin D supplement or a placebo, with approximately 80% of those in the vitamin D group remaining taking the supplements at the conclusion of the five years.
Six percent of vitamin D group individuals had a significant cardiovascular incident, compared to 6.6 percent of placebo group participants. According to ScienceAlert, the vitamin D group had a 19% reduced rate of heart attacks, while there was no difference in stroke rates.
The vitamin that reduces the risk of heart attack
The figures revealed that those who were taking statins or another type of heart health medicine at the start of the trial benefited more from vitamin D supplements – another intriguing discovery that needs to be investigated further.
“We’re not sure why this happens,” Neale explains. “It could be an indicator of higher risk early in the study, so there’s more room for improvement.”
The researchers emphasize that no one, especially older persons with pre-existing illnesses, should begin using vitamin D cardiac supplements without first visiting a doctor.
Meanwhile, the supplement discussion rages on. If you want to increase your vitamin D levels naturally, the answer is enough of sunlight and meals like fatty fish and egg yolks.
“While previous randomized controlled trials have not found supplementation to be beneficial for this outcome, the findings from the D-Health Trial suggest that it is premature to say that vitamin D supplementation does not change risk,” Neale said.