By John A. Rumberger, PhD, MD, FACC

A recent publication [June 2014] in the British Journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology has reported that the presence of several specific gene mutations associated with a reduced metabolic synthesis of plasma vitamin D showed a causal relationship between low levels of vitamin D and high blood pressure [hypertension].

For every 10% increase in the blood concentration of vitamin D there was a small but real associated decrease in resting blood pressures and also 8% decrease in the odds of developing high blood pressure in the future. However as with all ‘observational’ investigations, a formal large study including use of vitamin D supplementation will need to be performed but is it possible that vitamin D supplementation may be effective in combating some cases of hypertension.

Another study recently published in February 2014 also noted increasing BMI [body mass index] as a causal factor in vitamin D deficiency. Increasing BMI is associated with obesity and at least ‘central’ obesity is associated with what is called a ‘metabolic syndrome’ commonly associated with abnormalities in cholesterol, high blood pressure, and abnormal blood sugar control. The later condition is commonly related to an ‘insulin resistance syndrome’ [pre-diabetes] and apparently low vitamin D levels contribute to the process.

We correctly avoid over exposure to the sun and freely use high SPF skin products; but this then reduces the amount of vitamin D produced in our sun exposed skin. Unfortunately, dietary sources of vitamin D [commonly ‘fortified’ in cereal, milk, orange juice, etc.] are poor and thus vitamin D deficiency is more common in the US than in the past. Vitamin D deficiency is a well-established factor in abnormal bone densities but it has also been suggested as a ‘modifiable’ risk factor for a variety of diseases including breast cancer, colon cancer, and even multiple-sclerosis.

Both hypertension and visceral obesity are important ‘risk factors’ in the development of heart disease.

Dr. John A. Rumberger comments: These two studies re-enforce my own experience in linking lowered bone densities and vitamin D deficiency with the increased incidence of coronary artery calcification and heart plaque formation.