Earlier this summer as vacationers laid out beach towels, adjusted their sunglasses and felt the warmth of the sun’s rays, researchers presented the world’s largest study examining the link between Vitamin D and hypertension at the European Society of Human Genetics Conference in Paris, France. The data presented from more than 35 studies and 155,000 people, revealed that high concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D resulted in lower blood pressure levels and a reduced risk of hypertension. When we are not taking a break from real life, our daily habits have resulted in lower Vitamin D levels throughout the western world, as we have stayed indoors and covered up to prevent skin cancer in recent decades – great for our skin, but bad for our blood pressure.
Vitamin D is produced by the skin when it comes in contact with ultraviolet B radiation from the sun. We also obtain Vitamin D through dietary sources, however, it is not widely found naturally in food sources and food fortification has been found to be largely inconsistent or inadequate as reliable sources. While we rely on sun exposure primarily for our Vitamin D absorption, depending on where you live, the time and day and what you are wearing, you may not be getting as much as you need. In fact, an estimated 40 to 75 percent of our population is deficient in Vitamin D.
“We routinely check patients who come in for hypertension for low Vitamin D levels,” explains Dr. Wayne Leimbach. If a patient is deficient in Vitamin D, prescribing a daily supplement can regulate blood pressure without side effects or high dose medications. It can be a simple fix to what could otherwise be a difficult condition to manage.
Researchers have found for every 10 percent increase in concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, there is an 8.1 percent decrease in risk of hypertension. With this correlation found, researchers say they will continue to examine ways in which Vitamin D deficiency may influence other risk factors for heart disease including the risk of Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.
If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D status. It could be a simple answer to help reduce your risk of complications from unmanaged blood pressure including heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure.