Vitamin D supplementation may help lower blood pressure in African-Americans, according to a study published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart failure, heart attacks, and stroke. It is 40% more common in African-American populations than other ethnic groups.
“This study may explain and help treat an important public health disparity,” said the study’s lead author, John Forman, MD, a physician in the Renal Division and Kidney Clinical Research Institute at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Dr Forman and colleagues divided 250 African-American participants into four groups. Three of the groups received daily vitamin D supplementation at 1000, 2000, and 4000 IU, while the last group received a placebo.
Participants in the placebo group had their blood pressure increase (1.7 mm Hg), while those in the vitamin D groups all saw a decrease in blood pressure. The participants taking 4000 IU had an average decrease in systolic blood pressure of 4 mm Hg. Those taking 2000 IU had a 3.4 mm Hg drop, and those in the 1000 IU group observed a .7 mm Hg decrease. Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.
“The gains were modest, but significant,” said Forman. “If further research supports our finding, widespread use of vitamin D supplementation in African-Americans could have significant public health benefits.”