MONDAY, March 15, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that extra vitamin D could make a major difference in heart disease risk among people who have low levels of the nutrient.
Researchers from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Murray, Utah, report in two new studies that vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of other chronic diseases, too.
"Vitamin D replacement therapy has long been associated with reducing the risk of fractures and diseases of the bone," study author Dr. J. Brent Muhlestein, director of cardiovascular research, said in a center news release. "But our findings show that vitamin D could have far greater implications in the treatment and reduction of cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions than we previously thought."
The researchers found that patients who boosted their vitamin D levels to 43 nanograms per milliliter of blood or higher reduced their rates of diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure and heart disease. They were also less likely to die during the study period.
According to the researchers, a level of 30 nanograms per milliliter of vitamin D is considered normal.
"Although randomized trials would be useful and are coming, I feel there is enough information here for me to start treatment based on these findings," Muhlestein said, adding that increasing vitamin D intake by 1,000 to 5,000 international units a day may be a good idea in some cases.
The findings are scheduled to be presented Monday at the American College of Cardiology's annual meeting in Atlanta.
There's more on vitamin D at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.