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Study released on heart health and vitamin D levels

Posted on: January 3, 2012   by  John Cannell, MD


Dr. James L Vacek and colleagues from the University of Kansas Medical Center recently released an amazing paper. Last decade, they studied over 10,000 patients for up to 5 years, looking at both their vitamin D levels and if they were taking vitamin D.

Vacek JL, Vanga SR, Good M, Lai SM, Lakkireddy D, Howard PA. Vitamin D Deficiency and Supplementation and Relation to Cardiovascular Health. Am J Cardiol. 2011 Nov 7. [Epub ahead of print]

First, they found that vitamin D deficient patients [25(OH)D<30 ng/ml] were much more likely to have coronary artery disease, diabetes, swollen heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), hypertension and death. And the difference was not little in most cases, such as 99% of the people with 25(OH)D level > 30 ng/ml lived throughout the study but only 96% of the vitamin D deficient group did, a four-fold difference.

They also found significant difference (p<0.0001) for good cholesterol levels, bad cholesterol levels, and triglycerides. The one thing they did not do is see who was taking D2 and who was taking D3. Remember, do not take D2. If your doctor gives you a prescription for Drisdol or D2, tear it up and get a bottle of 5,000 IU D3 capsules of D3.

The authors end the paper by reminding doctors they can follow the Endocrine Society’s protocol. My only problem with the Endocrine Society’s protocol is that they do not mind recommending D2, when I think studies show that D3 is the one proven to extend life.

6 Responses to Study released on heart health and vitamin D levels

  1. swe9845

    I wonder if you can explain for me HOW you come up with a fourfold difference in the part starting with “And the difference was not little in most cases……

  2. Jeffrey J

    Any comments on this story:


    As one of the comments noted, there was no discussion of total mortality rates.

  3. aburfordmason

    I try and get all clients up to 70-80 ng/mL (175 – 200 nmol/L). I have never seen their CRP go up. And if I did, I would assume they needed more antioxidants, especially vitamin C (Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010 Jul 6;7:55; J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 May;111(5):737-43). What these scientists and the medical profession in general are really going to have to come to terms with is that optimal nutrition only prevents/treats degenerative disease when ALL essential nutrients are optimized. Vitamin D is essential, but it is no panacea. Just as a car won’t run without properly adjusted spark plugs, don’t expect all broken down cars to return to full health by simply tweaking their spark plugs.

    In the case of vitamin D, reductionist approaches to studying its relationship to chronic disease are in danger of obscuring the very real impact of widespread deficiency/insufficiency on all aspects of health worldwide. Enough with this “spark plugs” research.

    Aileen Burford-Mason PhD

    • Brant Cebulla

      Thanks for the insight Aileen.

  4. GeorgeD

    Dr. Burford-Mason – If I understand your position correctly, you advocate doing nothing until we know everything. As an auto hobbyist who works on old clunkers I can relate to your spark plug example. You are right that “tweaking” the spark plugs does not restore the engine to full health but it is sure a vital step in the right direction.

    I don’t think the advocates of Vitamin D see it as the do-all, be-all cure to all that ails you. What seems to be clear is there is a large body of evidence that shows what symptoms are present when a deficiency exists. While scientist don’t know exactly what ails you, they do know what will happen when certain items are deficient – be it vitamins, minerals, exercise or social interaction.

    So getting back to your spark plug analogy: If your car is not running smoothly and you know you have bad spark plugs and you also know that bad spark plugs contribute to poor performance, why wouldn’t you “tweak” your plugs? Sure it may not be your engines only problem and it may not even be your biggest problem but it is none the less a problem which need to be addressed on the path to full performance.

    Until a better picture is painted, I am going to follow the evidence and make the adjustments that appear to be pointing me in towards better performance.


    PS – I really love the engine analogy. Did you know that while some engine designers were busy “tweaking” spark plugs to optimize performance there was this one guy who thought the research into building and understanding how spark plugs impact performance was absolute insanity and a total waste of time? He built an engine that doesn’t need spark plugs. His name is Rudolf Diesel and his idea powers much of the world. Unfortunately, I don’t think we have the creative capacity to redesign the human engine. We can only continue studying how it works and what makes in not work.

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