Getting more sunlight may help you fight cardiovascular disease and even reverse previous damage, says a new study from Ohio University.
The study found that Vitamin D3, which is made by the body when skin is exposed to the sun, can repair damage to the cardiovascular system caused by several diseases, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and atherosclerosis, a disease caused by deposits of fat inside arteries.
“Generally, Vitamin D3 is associated with the bones,” said Dr. Tadeusz Malinski. “However, in recent years, in clinical settings people recognize that many patients who have a heart attack will have a deficiency of D3.
“It doesn’t mean that the deficiency caused the heart attack, but it increased the risk of heart attack,” Malinski continued.
The researchers used nanosensors about 1,000 times smaller than a human hair, to track how Vitamin D3 affects single endothelial cells, a vital regulatory component of the cardiovascular system.
They found that Vitamin D3 stimulates nitric oxide, a major component in regulating blood flow and preventing blood clots. They also discovered that Vitamin D3 significantly reduced levels of oxidative stress in the cardiovascular system.
Most important, Malinski’s team found that treatment with Vitamin D3 can significantly restore the damage to the cardiovascular system caused by several diseases, including hypertension, atherosclerosis, and diabetes, while also reducing the risk of heart attack. The studies, which were performed on cells from Caucasian Americans and African Americans, yielded similar results for both ethnic groups.
“There are not many, if any, known systems which can be used to restore cardiovascular endothelial cells which are already damaged, and Vitamin D3 can do it,” Malinski said. “This is a very inexpensive solution to repair the cardiovascular system. We don’t have to develop a new drug. We already have it.”
The study was published in the International Journal of Nanomedicine. Vitamin D3 has also been shown to help other conditions, including multiple sclerosis. A 2016 study from Johns Hopkins found that 10,400 IU of vitamin D3 daily reduced the numbers of inflammatory T-cells that produce interleukin-17, cells that have been linked to the progression of MS. “These results are exciting, as vitamin D has the potential to be an inexpensive, safe and convenient treatment for people with MS,” says study author Dr. Peter Calabresi.