Vitamin D, Women and Heart Disease

A report on Medscape from earlier this month suggests a link between low levels of Vitamin D and metabolic syndrome in post-menopausal women. Metabolic syndrome in turn is a predictor for cardiovascular disease.(1) However, the issue may not be limited just to older women.

The Mayo Clinic offers this definition for metabolic syndrome:

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels — that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.(2)

In this case, “link” means a correlation, not an actual causal model. Whether metabolic syndrome causes Vitamin D deficiency, or the reverse, isn’t proven. We just know that they go hand-in-hand.

In fact there are a range of other illness associated with Vitamin D deficiency. Having adequate Vitamin D has become more of an issue with guidance instructing people to avoid excess exposure to the sun and use strong sunscreen protection. While wise in preventing skin cancer, these measures also inhibit natural Vitamin D production in the body, making a D deficiency an issue for more people.

Researchers have been focusing on the consequences of vitamin D deficiency and have found an alarming number of health issues outside of its role with rickets. These include skeletal diseases like osteoporosis, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, infections, inflammatory bowel diseases, psychological disorders, cognitive disorders, obesity, and or mortality.(3)

The doctor in the Medscape report is recommending that post-menopausal women consider Vitamin D supplements.

You may want to have your Vitamin D level checked as part of a normal physical exam, regardless of age.  It’s worth a conversation with your doctor.



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