Vitamin D the Key to Diabetic’s Heart Health

Vitamin D deficiency is a largely unknown and undiagnosed condition in Australia. Vitamin D deficiency symptoms can range from moodiness, irritability to sickness and ill health.

In terms of of the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular disease, this fairly simply diagnosis is often overlooked for more complicated causes.

Approximately one billion people worldwide have low levels of the synthesised Vitamin D 25-hydroxyvitamin D. This is the principal circulating storage form of vitamin D, and more than half of middle-aged vitamin D deficient patients develop cardiovascular disease.

This study, performed in 2009, aimed to find the mechanisms by which vitamin D deficiency increases cardiovascular disease in diabetic patients. It specifically concentrated on the effects of vitamin D on macrophage cholesterol deposition. Macrophages are dispatched by the immune system in response to inflammation and often are activated by diseases such as diabetes. The researchers believe that in diabetes patients with inadequate vitamin D, macrophages become loaded with cholesterol and eventually stiffen blood vessels and block blood flow. The study investigated 76 obese, diabetic, hypertensive patients with vitamin D deficiency.

Macrophages were obtained from the obese, diabetic, hypertensive patients with vitamin D deficiency, and then split into 4 control groups; obese, diabetic, hypertensive patients with normal vitamin D levels, obese, non-diabetic, hypertensive patients with vitamin D deficiency, non-obese, non-hypertensive patients with vitamin D deficiency or vitamin D sufficient people.

The macrophages from the same patients in all groups were exposed to modified low-density cholesterol.

According to the results, macrophages from diabetics with vitamin D deficiency retained cholesterol and formed foam cells, which is an early marker of atherosclerosis. In the presence of vitamin D, however, cholesterol uptake was reduced. This latter result was also observed in the macrophages of diabetics who were not vitamin-D deficient.

Activation of the vitamin D receptor signalling was shown to be responsible for a dramatic suppression of cholesterol uptake. Impairment of the signalling (in the form of vitamin D deficiency) confirmed the acceleration of cholesterol formation in diabetics.  This study, in conclusion, shows a link between vitamin D deficiency and cholesterol formation in type 2 diabetics.

Emed’s Comment:

This is very interesting research – and very promising, especially for diabetics.

The study found that diabetes patients deficient in vitamin D can’t process cholesterol normally, so it builds up in their blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. This research has identified the mechanism linking low vitamin D levels to heart disease risk, and may lead to ways to fix the problem simply by increasing levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D basically inhibits the uptake of cholesterol by cells called macrophages. So when we are deficient in vitamin D, the macrophage cells eat more cholesterol that they can’t get rid of, causing them to become clogged with cholesterol and become what is referred to as foam cells. Foam cells are one of the earliest markers of artherosclerosis.

Vitamin D is mainly sourced from the sun – it is synthesised in the body to 25-hydroxyvitamin D, the usable form of the vitamin. In the last couple of decades, as research and technology has developed, so has our knowledge of cancer, especially skin cancer. We seem to vary between two extremes – lying on the beach all day burning to a crisp, or bathing in sunscreen and covering every inch of our body.

A lack of vitamin D in our body can lead to a range of common, misdiagnosed and serious conditions, such as high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, autoimmune diseases, memory loss, stroke, heart attacks and cancer. Vitamin D has a huge effect on our moods, mental health and even immune system function.

In a country as sunny as Australia, it’s ironic how a large percentage of us are vitamin D deficient. We basically need to spend more time in the sun, without being slathered in sunscreen.

Ten to fifteen minutes a day is all it takes, and it doesn’t have to be at the hottest time of the day either. Instead of eating morning tea at your desk, go for a quick walk. Stroll around the block in the morning. Eat lunch outside. There are so many opportunities where you can get your daily dose of vitamin D. It’s not hard.

If you do spend most of your day out in the sun, it is still important to cover up. Anything over 10-15 minutes can be too much, so don’t throw away the sunscreen just yet.

What else can I do?

  • Get your exact vitamin D levels tested. There are 5 different types of vitamin D, so it is important that you get the right one tested. Thanks to scientific advances and new technology, you can now easily find out if you are vitamin D deficient, and the nutritional strategies you need to take to stabilise your levels. Click here for more information.Combine this with the Emed Consultation, and you can find out the exact supplements you should be taking to address your key health areas. Click here to find out more.
  • Eating well?  Forget the bread, junk food and take-away, and stick with fresh vegetables, fruit, lean meats, and fish. You should get most of the vitamins and minerals from your food and supplement your diet with natural medicine. Cut out the sugar and junk to reduce your chances of having high cholesterol and diabetes. Read ‘Health Promoting Nutrition‘ and ‘Why Change Our Diet?‘ for more information.
  • Not eating enough of the good stuff? Supplement with a top-quality multi, like those found on Emed’s Best Multivitamins to optimise your health and energy levels.
  • How much do you exercise? We should all aim for at least 20-30 minutes a day minimum.
  • Taking your fish oil? Fish oil is very beneficial for diabetes and related cardiovascular disease, with some studies showing at least a 30% reduction in mortality in those who supplement daily with a good fish oil. We should all get our essential fatty acid levels checked to ensure that we are taking the correct omega-3 ratios. Click here to find out about the Essential Fatty Acid level Test.
  • Is your gut healthy? In order to absorb vitamins and minerals from our food correctly, you must have a good balance of good bacteria. Alcohol, processed food and antibiotics throw of this balance, so it’s important that you supplement with a probiotic to stabilise your balance. Click here to find out more about Emed’s Best Probiotics.

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