Vitamin D, commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is responsible for myriad functions in our human body (1). According to a recent research, Vitamin D can also protect against heart failure after a heart attack.
How Does Vitamin D Help Our Health?
Vitamin D is present in some foods only; the majority of the vitamin D humans get is from exposure to the sunlight when this vitamin gets produced (1).
NOTE: Daily some sun exposure ain’t hurt anyone. Just make sure to wear sunscreen.
Vitamin D is very popularly known to protect the bones and teeth and diseases, such as rickets in children; osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults (2). However, Vitamin D plays so many roles in our body too. Vitamin D helps in functioning of the blood vessels and muscles (3). Recent evidence also shows that vitamin D can play a role in protecting the heart health. Studies have also found a connection between decreased levels of vitamin D to heart failure and coronary artery disease (4).
The Role of Vitamin D in Preventing Heart Failure
Heart failure is a fatal condition, in which a person’s heart is not able to pump sufficient amount of blood and oxygen all over the body (5).
It is important to understand the physiological changes behind heart failure, as it is becoming increasingly common. The recent evidence shows that vitamin D plays a role in protecting against heart failure; hence, researchers want to understand more about this beneficial relationship.
The benefits of vitamin D regarding the health of our heart are getting well known; however, the mechanism behind this is still not well understood. Researchers from Westmead Institute in Australia have conducted an experiment to better understand the connection between vitamin D and heart failure (8). A type of vitamin D that is 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25D) and which “communicates with hormones” and a mouse model was used to understand the manner in which the 1,25D affects the heart cells. These heart cells which were used are cCFU-Fs, known as cardiac colony-forming unit fibroblasts, and they are responsible for formation of scar tissue after the patient has had heart attack (6).
A person has a heart attack when the blood supply to the heart gets interrupted or is stopped. The heart tissues do not get any oxygen and become damaged resulting in inflammation of the tissue. After the heart attack, the inflamed and damaged tissue gets replaced with scar tissue by the cCFU-Fs. This becomes problematic, as this scar tissue in the heart muscles decreases the ability of the heart to effectively pump the blood, which can result in heart failure (7).
The research team discovered that vitamin D can block the action of cCFU-Fs, thus preventing formation and accumulation of scar tissue and thus potentially preventing the development of a blockage in the heart muscles. This is the first study to understand the role of 1,25D in regulation of the cardiac progenitor cells, and the results of the study are very encouraging. With more research, vitamin D can prove to be a beneficial and an inexpensive addition to the present treatment for heart conditions.
As mentioned before, the results of the relationship between vitamin D and its ability to protect the heart are very encouraging; further studies are required though. However, anything which can help in protecting the human heart is good news; especially something that is easily available at a cheaper price in the ongoing battle against heart disease.
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- Vitamin D & Sunlight: How Long Should You Be In The Sun For Vitamin D & What Is The Best Time To Sit In Sun?
- What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency & How can It Be Treated and Prevented