Vitamin D protects against artery disease

April 17th, 2008 - 11:37 am ICT by admin  

Washington, April 17 (IANS) Low vitamin D levels may precipitate risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to a study. PAD is a common disease that occurs when arteries in the legs become narrowed by fatty deposits, causing pain and numbness and impairing the ability to walk.

Researchers in the US analysed data from a national survey measuring vitamin D levels in 4,839 adults. The survey tested these people using a screening tool for PAD.

Also measured were other risk factors for PAD such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure and presence of diabetes.

PAD affects about eight million Americans and is associated with significant disease and death, according to the American Heart Association.

People obtain vitamin D by making it themselves (through skin exposure to sunlight), by ingesting foods such as fish and fortified dairy products that contain vitamin D, or by taking dietary supplements.

Adequate vitamin D levels are necessary for bone health, but scientists are only beginning to explore vitamin D’s connection to cardiovascular disease.

“We know that in mice, vitamin D regulates one of the hormone systems that affects blood pressure,” said Michal Melamed, of Einstein College of Medicine and co-author of the study.

“Since cells in the blood vessels have receptors for vitamin D, it may directly affect the vessels, although this has not been fully worked out.”

Researchers found that higher levels of vitamin D were associated with a lower prevalence of PAD.

The scientists reported their findings at the American Heart Association’s Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology Annual Conference.

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