vitamin d and heart disease
Vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Low vitamin D levels lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, intima-media thickness, and coronary calcification.

Cellular vitamin D receptors are found to affect inflammation, suggesting vitamin D may not only impact risk factors contributing to heart disease but may also directly impact on heart disease.

How much vitamin D do you need?

The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) develops Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), which are broken down into Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), Adequate Intake (AI), and Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL).

We use these established DRIs to know how to of a nutrient to include in our diet daily for optimal health.

The FNB recommends 600 IU of vitamin D daily for men and women between the ages of 19-71 years-old.

What happens if you get too little vitamin D?

A study conducted at the University of Copenhagen reviewed data from studies with more than 10,000 participants comparing those with low vitamin D levels (less than 15 ng/mL) versus the highest levels (more than 50 ng/mL). Those with low levels were 64% more likely to have a heart attack, 40% more likely to develop ischemic heart disease, had a 57% increased risk of early death, and 81% more likely to die from heart disease.

What happens if you get too much vitamin D?

The UL for vitamin D is set at 4,000 IUs per day. Intakes above this level are connected to elevated serum levels that increase risk for adverse health effects. Long-term intakes above the UL increases risk for cardiovascular events, such as heart attack.

How to include vitamin D every day:

Obtaining needed nutrients in your diet is always preferable to supplements. However, vitamin-D rich foods are limited.

So, what can you do to ensure you receive 600 IU of vitamin D daily?

Foods rich in vitamin-D include:

Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are top sources of vitamin D.

Most milk in the United States (US) is fortified with vitamin D. Note: Cheese and ice cream are not fortified with vitamin D.

Cod liver oil contains 1300 IU’s of vitamin D. This is twice the RDA, but does not exceed the UL.

One of the best vitamin D sources is not found in the grocery store.


Twenty to twenty-five minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen allows your body to produce vitamin D. However, where you live impacts whether or not sunlight is adequate.

If you live above the 40th degree latitude (i.e. North of Denver, CO) sunlight is not adequate during January and February. If you live above the 42nd degree latitude (i.e. North of Chicago, IL) sunlight is not adequate between November and February.

For more information on foods and diet to lower cholesterol and promote heart health, sign up for my free e-course How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps HERE.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
Health Pro for HealthCentral

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