Scientists found that taking Vitamin D3 on a daily basis is associated with better heart function in heart failure patients that were previously deficient in vitamin D.
A team of cardiologists at the University of Leeds in the U.K. found that a daily dose of vitamin D3, which is the form of vitamin D that our body produces when exposed to sunlight, boosted the heart’s pumping power by up to 34 percent.
Heart failure patients are often deficient in the vitamin so they need to take supplementation.
The small study that monitored 163 heart failure patients over five years found significant improvements in their heart function after just one year of taking vitamin D3. The control group’s heart function showed no similar benefits after the same period.
People can become vitamin D deficient if they stay away from the sun, as they grow old or if they use sunblock. Vitamin D is also hard to supplement from diet alone as too few foods naturally have it. Vitamin D dietary supplements are of two types: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3.
Dr. Klaus K. Witte, senior researcher involved in the study, explained that his team opted for Vitamin D3 supplementation because it is more potent than vitamin D2 pills. Plus, vitamin D3 is naturally produced by our skin when exposed to the sun.
Past studies had highlighted several health benefits vitamin D may bring including stronger bones and muscles, improved cognitive function, and lower risk of fractures and dementia. It also staves off rickets in pregnant women and small children.
But the latest research adds another health benefit to the list: better heart function in patients with heart failure.
In the world, about 23 million people are affected by the condition. Heart failure prevents people from leading a normal life since it often requires medical intervention due to its persistent symptoms especially in the elderly.
The new study involved heart failure patients that were already undergoing treatment with conventional medicines including ACE-inhibitors and beta-blockers. Researchers asked the volunteers to take a dose of vitamin D3 or a placebo every day for one year.
To assess any improvement in heart function, study authors measured the levels of blood flow coming out of the heart with each beat. People not affected by the condition usually have an ejection fraction of up to 70 percent while study participants had an ejection fraction of 26 percent when they started taking vitamin D. But after just one year, their ejection fraction climbed between 26 percent and 34 percent.
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