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Vitamin D might be best-known as a bone-building nutrient. But this particular vitamin isn’t just for helping you make the most out of your calcium – it actually offers some pretty surprising health perks. Its effects are far-reaching, shaping everything from your muscles to your energy levels. And when it comes to heart health, vitamin D is more crucial than you might think.
Researchers have found that there just might be a link between a vitamin D deficiency and your risk for cardiovascular disease. If you’re hoping to keep your heart healthy, here’s what you need to know.
A vitamin D deficiency can more than double your risk for heart disease
A study published in European Heart Journal uncovered a potential link between vitamin D deficiency and heart disease. This large-scale study took a look at data from over 267,000 individuals, examining both vitamin D levels and factors that are associated with heart disease, like high blood pressure.
The researchers noted a correlation between the two – participants who had higher levels of vitamin D also had a lower risk of higher blood pressure and cardiovascular disease factors. And those who had too-low levels of vitamin D, the risk was the highest.
How low, exactly, is too low when it comes to vitamin D levels and your heart health? Researchers classified participants into these three categories:
- Deficient: Less than 30 nmol/L
- Mildly deficient: Between 30 to 50 nmol/L
- Sufficient: Greater than 50 nmol/L
While there was a positive relationship between higher levels of vitamin D and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, just getting the recommended amount of this nutrient – the “sufficient” level – was enough to decrease that risk.
How common is vitamin D deficiency?
If you’re hoping to keep your heart healthy for years to come, this news means you’re going to want to keep your vitamin intake in mind. And if you’re wondering if you might have a vitamin D deficiency, you’ll definitely want to check in with your doctor: Too-low vitamin D levels is a common issue among adults.
Vitamin D is one of the easiest vitamins to take in. After all, spending time in sunlight can give you a boost of this nutrient. Yet research suggests that over 41 percent of U.S. adults have a vitamin D deficiency.
However, severe vitamin D deficiency is rare. Most who are lacking this vitamin can get a boost through supplements (just make sure to check in with your doctor before you start taking any new dietary supplements). So, if you’re concerned that your low levels might be hampering your heart health, it’s a problem that can easily be fixed.
To get more vitamin D, you can include foods rich in this nutrient in your daily diet. Oily fish, like salmon, sardines, trout and mackerel, are particularly great sources. Eggs are another fantastic choice – and you can serve them up in so many different ways. But if tweaking your diet doesn’t work, a daily vitamin D supplement is another good alternative. And don’t forget, an act as simple as spending a few minutes outdoors in the sun each day can also up your levels (just don’t forget to apply sunscreen!).
Need more ideas? Keep reading to learn more about vitamin D:
- Can Summer Give You Enough Vitamin D?
- How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?
- Healthy Foods That Are High In Vitamin D
Featured recipe: Broiled Dijon Salmon