There is still much to be learned about how vitamin D relates to a wide array of different diseases and medical conditions. One correlation that has come up a lot lately is between lower vitamin D levels and cardiovascular disease. The correlation is strong, but it begs the question – Does vitamin D have a direct effect on something like cholesterol, which is a known cause of heart disease?
One recent study tackled this question head on, and it’s important to note something at the outset that will probably sound like gobbledygook to most of you: This study was a “…double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial…” which is a really science-geek way of saying this experiment was very rigorous. They took every precaution they could to really get this right. That meant controlling for all kinds of other factors that can cause heart disease, like smoking, alcohol consumption, initial D levels and more than twenty other variables.
This wasn’t some kind of quick-and-dirty science experiment. What the researchers did was take 576 postmenopausal women and gave them a combination calcium and vitamin D3 supplement (1,000 mg of calcium, 400IU of vitamin D3) on a daily basis or a placebo, and no one knew what they were getting. And this went on for three years.
At the end of two years, those receiving the real vitamin supplements had their vitamin D levels increased by 38%. They also had lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), not by a lot, but by enough to be important. They also had higher HDL cholesterol (the good kind). Thus, women with higher vitamin D levels do have better lipid profiles. And that’s great news!
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