Lower your blood pressure with vitamin D?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few years, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the many healing powers of vitamin D. And here’s even more good news for this vital vitamin --   vitamin D may help lower blood pressure.

A quick search on our blog  shows dozens of articles singing the praises of this powerhouse...and for good reason. Studies have found that vitamin D may help protect us against a list of ailments long enough to make your jaw drop. Including:

Now, a new study published in the journal Hypertension is making it likely that we'll soon be adding hypertension to the list.

Vitamin D has long been associated with a healthy heart. But now, according to research done at Brigham and Women's Hospital, vitamin D supplements may also be associated with a significant reduction in blood pressure.

Vitamin D lowered blood pressure

In the small double-blind study, researchers randomly divided a group of about 250 African-American adults (African-American's were chosen because they're at a higher risk for HBP) into four groups. Group one was given 1,000 IUs of D a day, group two was given 2,000 IUs, group three received 4,000 IUs, and group four... the control... received a placebo.

They found that the supplements of vitamin D lowered blood pressure. In fact, at the highest dosage...4,000 IUs...participants had a full four-point drop in their all-important systolic (top number) blood pressure!

Those volunteers who took lower doses of D benefitted also, seeing smaller, but still measurable drops of 0.66 and 3.4 points, in their blood pressure as well. The unfortunate souls who got the placebo on the other hand, actually had their systolic pressure climb by 1.7 points.

The heart of the issue

I'm honestly not surprised that vitamin D is once again in the spotlight, or even that it's been linked with lowering blood pressure. After all, just last year a European study showed that supplements of vitamin D su lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients with low D levels during the winter months.

And other studies have found associations between low levels of the vitamin and raised blood pressure. But what we don't know yet is exactly how D helps you maintain--and perhaps even lower--your blood pressure numbers. But the answer may be linked to stiff and clogged arteries.

A number of studies have connected low vitamin D levels with stiffer arteries. And stiff arteries, which make your heart work harder to pump blood, lead to raised blood pressure levels.

And, as I explained in an earlier GTGH, Columbia University researchers confirmed a strong association between D deficiency and the buildup of plaque in your arteries. (If you missed that earlier GTGH click here to catch up.)

D deficiency is common

Of course, if vitamin D deficiency was rare, all of this would only be mildly interesting. However, study after study has found that huge segments of the world's population are indeed deficient. For example, one study last year concluded that 70 percent of Europeans are running low on this vitamin.

And another study, this one published in the journal Nutrition Research in 2011, concluded that at least 41.6 percent of the U.S. population is deficient. That number skyrockets to 69.2 percent in Hispanics and 82.1 percent in African Americans.

With today's indoor lifestyle...and with many of us on one or more D-robbing prescription drugs...chances are good that you, too, are running low on this important vitamin. The simplest way to top off your levels is to spend more time in the sun without sunscreen. But many of us still need more D than we're getting, and that's when a D supplement could come in handy.

Your doctor can run a simple blood test to determine if your levels are low. I generally recommend taking 2,000 to 4,000 IUs of vitamin D3 daily. Try to take your D with a meal containing healthy fats, such as olive or fish oil (or with a fish oil supplement) to help your body absorb the nutrient.

And if you're interested in using vitamin D to help with hypertension, talk with your doc about this new study, and how vitamin D may help lower your blood pressure.