The relationship between Vitamin D and the cardiovascular and immune system

Updated: Oct 19, 2019

Introduction

Vitamin D or calciferol is a fat soluble vitamin primarily used in the body for calcium and phosphorus level balancing,  maintaining a strong skeleton.1 Studies are beginning to emerge, however, which suggest they play a part in both the cardiovascular and immune system as well. 2

Aims and Rationale

Aims of the investigation include:

  1. Discover to what extent vitamin D is involved with the immune and cardiovascular systems

  2. Find out what health problems are related to a lack of the vitamin i.e. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and motor neurone disease (MND).

  3. Investigate into potentially using vitamin in the treatment or management of CVD and MND.

  4. Find the roles of using vitamin D in veterinary medicine.

This investigation can potentially open doors for modern medicine regarding treatment of well known heart and immune diseases that affect both people3,4 and animals5 on a large scale. The collective aim of the investigation is to branch out from traditional views that a vitamin D deficiency primarily affects the skeleton.6

Progress

Progress into the investigation so far has covered the deficiency of vitamin D and its effects on the cardiovascular system with some examples of studies.


Key: Vitamin D Body Levels Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D (ng/ml)Vitamin D Status ≤10Severe deficiency 10-20Deficiency 21-29Insufficiency ≥30Sufficiency >150Toxicity


Figure 1 below shows the levels of serum in relation to the vitamin D status of the body. These are translated on the graphs below. Both graphs show people with a deficiency (<15ng/ml) on the red line compared to people with an insufficiency on the green line. Graph A represents people with hypertension where graph B shows people without hypertension.7

Findings

A deficiency in vitamin D causes a much higher risk of CVD even when compared to an insufficiency. This differs greatly from the patients without hypertension who only showed an increased risk with age. The risk increase with age is represented regardless if hypertension, however it is much higher in those already with a high blood pressure.


Conclusions

This study has shown that there is a direct relationship between hypertension and a deficiency in vitamin D. It also shows that there are more factors to be aware of for example, age and disease history.


Limitations

There is a limited amount of information regarding the topics from a veterinary point of view.

Studies are mainly looking at how deficiencies cause diseases; there have not yet any studies looking and treatment for CVD or immune diseases been found.


Future Investigations

Looking at the Renin-angiotensin-aldosterone System (RAAS) and seeing if vitamin D has any effects on the process, as the RAAS plays a major role in blood pressure maintenance.8

The investigation of immune disease will also need to be investigated as the vast majority of research to date revolves around the cardiovascular disease.

Finding studies which look at treatment or even prevention methods for diseases using vitamin D.

References

1 Stolzt, V. D. (2006), Vitamin D New Research. Nova Science publishers Inc. New York, U.S.A.

2 Zaidi, S. (2009). Power of Vitamin D. Outskirts Press Inc, U.S.A.

3 Allenderm S., Scarborough, P., Peto, V. And Rayner, M. (2008) European cardiovascular disease statistics. British Heart Foundation Health Promotion research Group. Oxford.

4 Motor Neurone Disease Association (2012) MND Statistics. [online] http://www.mndassociation.org .

5 Sammarco, C. D. (2006) CVD remains most common cardiac disease in small, medium-sized dogs. [online] veterinarynews.dv360.com/dvm/cardiology/

6 Powers, J. G. And Gilchrest, B. A (2012) What you and your patients need to know about Vitamin D. Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. Vol. 31, Issue 1.

7 Lee, J. H., O’Keefe, J. H, Bell, D. B., Hensrud, D. D. and Holick, M. F. (2008). Vitamin D Deficiency: an important, common, and easily treatable cardiovascular risk factor? University of Missouri, U.S.A.

8 , R. (2008) Biology, 8th Edition. Pearson; Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco, U.S.A.

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