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). However, more research is needed. 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 others with dark skin, due to decreased natural production of vitamin D with sun exposure. People who have limited exposure to the sun, older adults, people with certain conditions who may not be able to absorb vitamin D effectively and others also may benefit from screening for vitamin D deficiency.
Jan. 28, 2016
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- Carvalho LS, et al. Vitamin D for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: Are we ready for that? Atherosclerosis. 2015;241:729.
- Ke L, et al. Vitamin D status and hypertension: A review. Integrated Blood Pressure Control. 2015;8:13.
- Beveridge LA, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis incorporating individual patient data. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2015;175:745.
- Vimaleswaran KS, et al. Association of vitamin D status with arterial blood pressure and hypertension risk: A mendelian randomisation study. The Lancet. Diabetes & Endocrinology. 2014;2:719.
- Vitamin D. National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/. Accessed Dec. 18, 2015.
- Dietary Reference Intakes for calcium and vitamin D. Institute of Medicine. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/13050/dietary-reference-intakes-for-calcium-and-vitamin-d. Accessed Dec. 21, 2015.
- Vitamin D. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/nutritional-disorders/vitamin-deficiency,-dependency,-and-toxicity/vitamin-d. Accessed Dec. 21, 2015.