Link between high blood pressure and vitamin D

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A study has found a very strong link between high blood pressure and low vitamin D levels.

It is believed that this is the first study to suggest vitamin D supplements as an alternative to drugs for treating high blood pressure in certain patients.

Hypertension is an important risk factor linked to early death and about 30% of people in the UK suffer from high blood pressure.

The lead researcher from the University of South Australia, Professor Elina Hyppönen, said that the idea of preventing hypertension with vitamin D is very attractive, considering the side effects and costs related to anti-hypertensive drugs.

A British study done previously involving in excess of one million patients found that cancer sufferers who were diagnosed during summer and autumn lived for longer periods than those diagnosed during other seasons. This may be due to the increased levels of vitamin D during the warmer months.

The new findings are a subject of debate, with conflicting views from experts.

Vitamin D is present in tuna, salmon and other oily fish, but very little of the dietary nutrient makes it into the bloodstream, compared with being exposed to sunlight.

A new study used genetic information from a database of 146500 people across North America and Europe. They assessed genetic blood variants which could affect the levels of vitamin D in the blood to determine its relationship with hypertension. The study revealed that for each 10% increase in vitamin D in the body, blood pressure was lowered and there was 8.1% less chance of hypertension being suffered.

Anti-hypertensive drugs have several side effects, such as constipation, facial flushing, dizziness and coughing, and experts believe that it may be beneficial to take vitamin D supplements instead.

Figures indicate that around 75% of people in Britain experience vitamin D intakes which are way below the daily recommended levels, particularly older people and children. The Food Standards Agency in the UK has not recommended a particular daily dosage of vitamin D, unless in cases where one is pregnant, elderly, Asian, gets very little sun exposure, eats no oily fish or meat. In these cases, 10mcg is recommended. It has been stated that a daily allowance of 25mcg will not cause any harm. The danger with continual excessive does over long periods of time is that the calcium absorption of the body is increased which could lead to liver and kidney damage, and weak bones.

Image Credit: Colin Dunn

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