Heart Health On Your Mind?: Vitamin D and Omega-3s to the Rescue!

Vitamin D and Omega-3s for the heart

We used to think that heart issues happened mainly to men, but today we realize that women are equally susceptible to the ravages of diet, lack of exercise, and stage-of-life issues that can lead to heart health concerns. Below is some of the latest research on the different ways Vitamin D and Omega-3s may help support healthy hearts.

Vitamin D reduces artery stiffness

Stiff arteries contribute to circulatory problems, and recent research shows a link to low levels of vitamin D. In this study, 70 overweight African-Americans, aged 13 to 45, with deficient vitamin D levels at or below 20 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL), took 600 IU, 2,000 IU, or 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day, or a placebo.

After 16 weeks, the placebo group saw a 2 percent increase in artery stiffness, and those taking 600 IU of vitamin D had a 0.1 percent increase. The 2,000 IU group saw artery stiffness decrease by 2 percent and, in what doctors said was a rapid improvement, the 4,000 IU vitamin D group had a 10.4 percent decrease in artery stiffness. Vitamin D levels improved to sufficient levels in both the 2,000 IU and 4,000 IU vitamin D groups, to 30 and 35.7 ng/mL, respectively.

Reference: PLoS One—Journals; December, 2017, 0188424, Published Online

Vitamin D for Healthy Heart

People can usually maintain heart health through good behavior, such as diet and exercise. New findings also suggest good vitamin D levels increase chances of a healthy heart. In this study, doctors measured vitamin D levels in 137 adults over age 60 who had visited a cardiology clinic. About 40 percent were deficient in vitamin D, with levels lower than 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood. Compared to those with good vitamin D levels, those who were deficient were more than 12 times as likely to have heart failure, where the heart does not pump sufficient blood to the body.

Reference: European Society of Cardiology; August, 2017, Published Online

Vitamins D and K

Earlier studies found a link between low levels of vitamin D, or vitamin K, separately, and chances for heart and vascular problems, but new research suggests when both nutrients are low, chances for developing high blood pressure increase.

Doctors analyzed levels of vitamins D and K in 231 people participating in a long-term aging study that began in 1992 and continues today. Those whose levels of vitamin D were below 20 nanograms per milliliter of blood and whose vitamin K levels fell below 323 picomoles per liter of blood had systolic and diastolic blood pressure 4.8 and 3.1 mmHg higher, respectively, compared to those with better levels of vitamins D and K.

Discussing the findings, doctors said the combination of low vitamin D and K was linked to increased blood pressure, and that this relationship could play a role in developing high blood pressure.

Reference: AHA Journals – Hypertension; November, 2017, Vol. 70, No. 5

Omega-3s lower heart rate

New evidence suggests how fast the heart beats while at rest is a key factor in circulatory and all other causes of death. In this review of 51 placebo-controlled omega-3 studies covering 3,000 participants, compared to placebo, those who took an omega-3 supplement had a small—but significant—average reduction in heart rate of 2.23 beats per minute.

Individually, there was no separate benefit for EPA, but DHA provided a significant benefit: an average of 2.47 fewer resting heartbeats per minute. Doctors said this is important because most participants had normal resting heart rates, and calculate that 3.2 fewer beats-per-minute would lower chances for a sudden fatal heart event by 7.5 percent.

Reference: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2017, S4130, Published Online

Omega-3s reduce CHD

Doctors in this long-term study tracked the vitamins and supplements in 22,035 men and women, aged 39 to 79, and followed up for 22 years. Overall, compared to those who did not take any supplements, those who took omega-3 supplements were 26 percent less likely to die from coronary heart disease (CHD).

Doctors also measured those whose only supplement was omega-3, and found they were 17 percent less likely to die from CHD compared to those who took no supplements at all.

In a final finding, chances of surviving CHD were greater in those who consistently took omega-3, and in those who began taking omega-3 during the study period, but the survival benefit disappeared in those who stopped taking omega-3.

Reference: BMJ Open; 2017, Vol. 7, No. 10, Published Online

Heart issues don’t have to be inevitable. A healthy diet, attitude and lifestyle can play big roles in helping your heart stay healthy.

Article copyright 2018 by Natural Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. Consult your health care provider before beginning a supplement, especially if you take prescribed or over-the-count medications or have a medical condition. For example, vitamin D is contraindicated in those with hypercalcemia. Omega-3s thin blood.