Vitamin D pill a day may improve exercise performance and lower risk of heart disease

Taking vitamin D supplements can improve exercise performance and lower the risk of heart disease, according to the findings of a preliminary study.

Vitamin D, which is both a vitamin and a hormone, helps control levels of calcium and phosphate in the blood and is essential for the formation of bones and teeth. Sources of Vitamin D include oily fish and eggs, but it can be difficult to get enough through diet alone. Most people generate vitamin D by exposing their skin to ultraviolet B rays in sunlight.

Previous studies suggest that vitamin D can block the action of enzyme 11-βHSD1, which is needed to make the "stress hormone" cortisol. High levels of cortisol may raise blood pressure by restricting arteries, narrowing blood vessels and stimulating the kidneys to retain water. As Vitamin D may reduce circulating levels of cortisol, it could theoretically improve exercise performance and lower cardiovascular risk factors.

Around ten million people may have low vitamin D levels. On average, one in ten adults has low levels of vitamin D in summer, compared to two in five in winter.

"Our pilot study suggests that taking vitamin D supplements can improve fitness levels and lower cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure," said Dr Raquel Revuelta Iniesta, co-author of the study. "Our next step is to perform a larger clinical trial for a longer period of time in both healthy individuals and large groups of athletes such as cyclists or long-distance runners."

"Vitamin D deficiency is a silent syndrome linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and a higher risk for certain cancers," said lead author of the study. "Our study adds to the body of evidence showing the importance of tackling this widespread problem."

 

Source: Science daily

N.H.Kh