It's long been known that getting too little vitamin D weakens bones. The role vitamin D may play in developing high blood pressure and heart disease is less clear.
Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to heart disease and a higher risk of high blood pressure (hypertension). It's too early to say whether too little vitamin D causes high blood pressure — or whether vitamin D supplements may have any role in the treatment of high blood pressure.
Still, vitamin D remains an important nutrient for overall good health. The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day for adults ages 19 to 70. For adults age 71 and older, the recommendation increases to 800 IU a day. Some doctors question whether these levels are adequate and think that getting more vitamin D would benefit many people. However, the Institute of Medicine recommends that adults avoid taking more than 4,000 IUs a day.
If you're concerned that you're getting too little — or too much — vitamin D, contact your doctor. He or she may recommend a blood test to check the level of vitamin D in your blood. Screening for vitamin D deficiency is important in African-Americans and other ethnic groups with dark skin, due to decreased natural production of vitamin D with sun exposure.
April 09, 2013
See more Expert Answers
- Ring M, et al. Arterial structure and function in mild primary hyperparathyroidism is not directly related to parathyroid hormone, calcium, or vitamin D. Plos One. 2012;7:e39519.
- Pilz S, et al. Vitamin D, cardiovascular disease and mortality. Clinical Endocrinology. 2011;75:575.
- Cohen, et al. Should we be recommending vitamin D supplementation for hypertension and cardiovascular disease prevention? The Journal of Clinical Hypertension. 2012;14:816.
- Wuerzner G, et al. Should hypertensive patients take vitamin D? Current Hypertension Reports. 2012;14:318.
- Tamez H, et al. Vitamin D and hypertension: An update and review. Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension. 2012;21:492.
- Dietary supplement fact sheet: Vitamin D. Office of Dietary Supplements. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/. Accessed March 13, 2013.
- Dietary Reference Intakes for calcium and vitamin D. Institute of Medicine. http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13050. Accessed March 13, 2013.
- Forman JP, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on blood pressure in blacks. Hypertension. 2013;61:779.
- Weinstock-Guttman B, et al. Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis. The Neurologist 2012;18:179.