Vitamin D may prevent heart attacks in men according to Harvard scientists
Studies have shown that there is a spike in heart disease related deaths at higher latitudes and during the darker winter months; both of which decrease the natural production of Vitamin D in your skin due to a lack of sunshine (the sun interacts with cholesterol in your skin to create Vitamin D.
In the current study Harvard researchers reviewed medical records and blood samples from 454 men aged 40 to 75 who had heart attacks and survived or who had died of heart disease. They then compared that data with similar information from 900 living men who did not have heart disease. The Harvard scientists found that men who had a vitamin D deficiency (blood levels below 15 ng/ml or less in their blood sample) had an increased risk of heart attack compared to men whose blood Vitamin D level was deemed sufficient (30 ng/ml or greater). The two-fold increased risk remained even after accounting for other known risk factors for heart disease including having high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of heart disease.
Men with intermediate levels of Vitamin D were also more likely to have a heart attack than men with sufficient levels. The researchers state in a news release that "Vitamin D deficiency has been related to an increasing number of conditions and to total [death]. These results further support an important role for vitamin D in [heart attack] risk. The present findings add further support that the current dietary requirements of vitamin D need to be increased to have an effect on [vitamin D] levels substantially large enough for potential health benefits." The study is published in the June 9th, 2008 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.