Vitamin D is connected to bone metabolism. In addition, it has its own benefits for the health of the heart and blood vessels. Read more about this topic in this article!
Did you know that vitamin D and cardiovascular health are linked? It is good to remember that this nutrient is one of the fat-soluble vitamins, along with vitamins A, E, and K. The human body is able to synthesize vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. In this article, we will tell you more about the importance of vitamins for the health of the heart and blood vessels.
The production of vitamin D is limited, so it should be supported by eating foods that contain it, such as fish. The best-known benefits of the vitamin are related to bone metabolism, but according to research evidence, it also has positive effects on other functions of the body.
How is formed?
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When exposed to sunlight , the skin is able to convert the previous molecule into cholecalciferol or vitamin D3, i.e. one of the inactive forms of vitamin D. However, the process is dependent on many factors, such as the season, time of day and geographical location , as well as differences between populations.
The amount of skin pigment also affects the amount of ultraviolet rays that stimulate vitamin production. In addition, age and cultural factors also have an effect on the time the skin is exposed to sunlight and ultraviolet radiation.
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Where can you get vitamin?
Although vitamin D produced by the skin makes up 95% of the body’s vitamin D total, most of the world’s population suffers from a deficiency of this vitamin. That is why it is important to ensure that the diet contains foods that contain vitamin. Some such options include:
- Natural foods such as fish, eggs, butter and liver.
- Functional products, i.e. foods to which vitamin D is added.
- Pharmacological nutritional supplements that contain vitamin in some form.
Vitamin D metabolism: molecular activation
The element preceding vitamin D is cholecalciferol, i.e. vitamin D3, which is synthesized in the skin from sunlight. There is also an inactive form of it called ergocalciferol, or vitamin D2, which is synthesized in plants and can be consumed from external sources.
Activation must occur from some of these precursor molecules. In order for this to happen, the precursor molecule attaches to a protein that transports it to the liver , where the first transformation takes place, producing calcidiol.
However, the molecule is still inactive and therefore requires a second hydroxylation. This process takes place in the kidneys. Calcitriol, which is the active form of vitamin, is produced there .
Calcitriol and its function in the body
Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble molecule, it easily penetrates the cell membrane until it reaches the cell nucleus, where the receptor is located. There, it attaches to a receptor to regulate the transcription of several genes. Thus, vitamin has many functions.
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Typical functions: calcium metabolism
Due to calcitriol, it is possible to increase the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from food in the intestinal cavity. In addition, its effect on the bones enables the mineral to be secreted into the bloodstream, which increases the amount of calcium available to the body’s cells.
It also has an additional function in the kidney by stimulating the reabsorption of calcium and phosphorus to prevent large amounts of minerals being excreted in the urine. For these reasons , vitamin is often associated with bone function , and this is one of the most typical effects of the molecule.
Calcitriol: a versatile substance
The functions of calcium and phosphorus metabolism are not only related to vitamin D. The molecule’s receptor is actually located in most of the body’s cells , so its involvement in physiological processes is much broader than originally thought.
Several studies have been conducted to illustrate other atypical effects of vitamin. For example, calcitriol has been linked to the regulation of the immune system, and its deficiency has been linked to inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
In addition, it has been shown to have an effect on hormone function. If calcitriol levels are insufficient, it may alter the function of the pancreas , which may contribute to the development of diabetes. If it regulates cell growth, it may develop into cancer.
The importance of vitamin D for the health of the heart and blood vessels
It has also been shown that nuclear receptors for vitamin are located in smooth muscle. Blood vessels have a layer of muscle, thanks to which the vessels contract and expand according to the body’s needs. This makes it possible for the blood circulation to adjust according to the requirements.
More studies clarify the effects of calcitriol on blood vessels. It seems to be related to decreased contractions and endothelial function.
Does vitamin D deficiency cause hypertension?
Calcitriol is an important player in blood pressure regulation – this is called the renin-angiotensin system. The active molecule is capable of inhibiting renin, i.e. ensuring that renin does not stimulate the transformation of tensiogen into angiotensin. This prevents blood pressure from rising.
Several studies show that low vitamin D levels increase blood pressure. The results of this evidence are particularly noticeable during the winter months, when cholecalciferol synthesis in the skin is reduced.
Vitamin D seems to have beneficial effects in regulating blood pressure.
Cardioprotective effect of calcitriol
Vitamin D deficiency has been seen to be associated with many health conditions that are classified as cardiovascular disease risk factors. These include especially metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes. dyslipidemia and hypertension.
These diseases would seem to have a connection with low calcitrol levels, in which case vitamin deficiency would be associated with the development of these diseases.
How can vitamin deficiency be recognized?
Determination of cholecalciferol and ergocalciferol in the blood is not the best way to find out vitamin D levels.
Nowadays, it is recommended to use the measurement of calcidiol, because there is a lot of calcidiol in the body and it helps to find out the composition of the blood better.
However, no consensus has been found on what calcidiol levels are considered optimal. According to most studies, less than 20 ng/ml can be classified as vitamin deficiency.
If calcidiol levels are determined at 20-30 ng/ml, it may mean insufficient calcidiol stores. Other evaluated parameters should objectively analyze the actual vitamin D levels. These include parathyroid hormone levels and serum calcium.
Vitamin D supplements
It is clear that the importance of vitamin D for the health of the heart and blood vessels is great. That’s why it’s important to make sure you get the optimal amount. Since sun exposure is insufficient in many countries, the best option is to get vitamin from food.
Food fortified with vitamin D is usually the first choice. This is particularly the case with dairy products. Vitamin D can also be obtained as cholecalciferol or ergocalciferol nutritional supplements on the prescription of a doctor or nutritionist.
The ideal amount
The recommended daily dose depends on the individual’s age and health. In general, 800 international units (IU) is considered a sufficient amount of vitamin D for an adult. However, each case should be evaluated individually.
Hypervitaminosis D is a rare disorder resulting from a state of intoxication caused by vitamin supplementation. In this case, hypercalcemia occurs and is accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Lack of appetite and weight loss
- Muscle pain and stiffness
- Kidney stones
- High blood pressure
It is good to keep in mind that the importance of vitamin D for the health of the heart and blood vessels is significant. So if you suspect that you are getting too little vitamin, it would be best to consult an expert. Only an expert can determine the appropriate dosage amount.This might interest you…