Taking vitamin D supplements ‘could slash your chance of a heart attack by a fifth’
- Scientists gave 21,315 Australians vitamin D tablets or a placebo for up to 5 years
- The rate of coronary revascularization was also 11% lower in the vitamin D group
Taking vitamin D in your 60s could reduce the chances of a heart attack by up to a fifth, new research suggests.
In the largest trial of its kind, people who took supplements had 19 per cent fewer heart attacks than those on a placebo.
They also cut their odds of needing heart bypass surgery by a tenth (11 per cent), with the effect was even more marked in those already taking statins, according to researchers.
While vitamin D is known to protect bones and muscle, research into its effects on heart and circulatory health has been less conclusive.
In this study, 21,315 Australians, aged between 60-84, were given either vitamin D tablets or placebo every month for up to 5 years.
While vitamin D is known to protect bones and muscle, research into its effects on heart and circulatory health has been less conclusive. In this study, 21,315 Australians, aged between 60-84, were given either vitamin D tablets or placebo every month for up to 5 years
Researchers then examined hospital data on any major cardiovascular events, including heart attacks, strokes, and coronary revascularisation – treatment to restore normal blood flow to the heart.
During the trial, 1,336 participants experienced a major cardiovascular event – 6.6 per cent who were taking placebos and 6 per cent in the vitamin D group – 9 per cent lower.
The rate of heart attack was 19 per cent lower and the rate of coronary revascularization was 11 per cent lower in the vitamin D group.
But there was no difference in the rate of stroke between the two groups, according to the findings published in the BMJ.
Vitamin D is a type of vitamin that the human body gets from both diet and produces when exposed to sunlight.
It helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are nutrients needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
Between spring and summer, it is thought most people can make all the vitamin D they need through sunlight on their skin and from a balanced diet.
But the NHS recommends supplements containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.
Overall, the researchers from institutions including the University of Melbourne, calculate that 172 people would need to take monthly vitamin D supplements to prevent one major cardiovascular event.
However, this figure could improve if it was applied to other populations, such as people who are vitamin D deficient they suggest.
As such, they say their findings suggest that vitamin D supplementation may have a protective effect and reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events.
The authors conclude: ‘These findings indicate that vitamin D supplementation might reduce the incidence of major cardiovascular events, particularly myocardial infarction and coronary revascularisation. This protective effect could be more marked in those taking statins or other cardiovascular drugs
‘In the meantime, these findings suggest that conclusions that vitamin D supplementation does not alter risk of cardiovascular disease are premature.’