Insufficient Vitamin D Levels Linked To Increased Atherosclerosis In Diabetics

Insufficient vitamin D levels linked to increased atherosclerosis in diabetics

Study finds no association between calcium intake and arterial calcification

Friday, November 16, 2012. The November 9, 2012 issue of The Journal of Biological Chemistry published an article by researchers at Washington University in St Louis that describes a protective effect for higher serum vitamin D levels against the development of atherosclerosis in patients with type 2 diabetes.

"About 26 million Americans now have type 2 diabetes," noted Carlos Bernal-Mizrachi, MD, the study's lead researcher. "And as obesity rates rise, we expect even more people will develop diabetes. Those patients are more likely to experience heart problems due to an increase in vascular inflammation, so we have been investigating why this occurs."

Dr Bernal-Mizrachi and his associates tested their hypothesis that monocytes (a type of white blood cell) from diabetics who are deficient in vitamin D would be likelier to promote atherosclerosis than those found in individuals who are vitamin D-sufficient. For the current study, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and other factors were measured in blood samples from 43 type 2 diabetics and 25 control subjects.

Diabetic patients who had sufficient serum levels of vitamin D of at least 30 nanograms per milliliter experienced less monocyte adhesion to endothelial cells (cells that line the blood vessels) in comparison with subjects with insufficient levels. Monocytes are transformed into cells called macrophages upon encountering inflammation. The adherence of macrophages to blood vessel walls, combined with accumulation of cholesterol, leads to the formation of plaque, which eventually impedes blood flow.

"We took everything into account," first author Amy E. Riek, MD noted. "We looked at blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes control, body weight and race. But only vitamin D levels correlated to whether these cells stuck to the blood vessel wall."

"In the future, we hope to generate medications, potentially even vitamin D itself, that help prevent the deposit of cholesterol in the blood vessels," added Dr Bernal-Mizrachi, who is an assistant professor of medicine and cell biology and physiology at Washington University School of Medicine. "Previous studies have linked vitamin D deficiency in these patients to increases in cardiovascular disease and in mortality. Other work has suggested that vitamin D may improve insulin release from the pancreas and insulin sensitivity. Our ultimate goal is to intervene in people with diabetes and to see whether vitamin D might decrease inflammation, reduce blood pressure and lessen the likelihood that they will develop atherosclerosis or other vascular complications."

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Large study links reduced vitamin D levels with increased risk of heart disease and premature death

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On August 30, 2012, the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology reported a protective effect for higher vitamin D levels against the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and death from any cause over up to 29 years of follow-up.

Børge Nordestgaard of the University of Copenhagen and his associates evaluated data from 4,410 men and 5,709 women enrolled in the Copenhagen City Heart Study whose plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were measured between 1981 and 1983. The subjects were followed up to the present, during which 3,100 ischemic heart disease events, 1,625 heart attacks and 6,747 deaths occurred.

Participants whose vitamin D levels were among the lowest 5% at less than 15 nanomoles per liter were compared with those whose levels were among the top 50% at over 50 nanomoles per liter. "We have now examined the association between a low level of vitamin D and ischemic heart disease and death in the largest study to date," announced first author Peter Brøndum-Jacobsen. "We observed that low levels of vitamin D compared to optimal levels are linked to 40% higher risk of ischemic heart disease, 64% higher risk of heart attack, 57% higher risk of early death, and to no less than 81% higher risk of death from heart disease."

"With this type of population study, we are unable to say anything definitive about a possible causal relationship," Dr Nordestgaard noted. "But we can ascertain that there is a strong statistical correlation between a low level of vitamin D and high risk of heart disease and early death. The explanation may be that a low level of vitamin D directly leads to heart disease and death. However, it is also possible that vitamin deficiency is a marker for poor health generally."

Michael Smith, MD launches Healthy Talk radio show November 28 on WWNN-AM

Michael Smith, MD, known to his devoted fans as "Dr. Mike, the country doctor with a city education," takes to the radio airwaves beginning Wednesday, November 28 on WWNN-AM, 1470 in South Florida, hosting Healthy Talk. The show, sponsored by Life Extension, will air every Wednesday from 1-2 p.m. ET and streams live on

Enjoying traditional holiday foods doesn't have to result in extra pounds. On the first show, Dr. Mike will provide proven methods for minimizing the negative effects of sugar and fat found in nearly all holiday foods. If you'd like to indulge in your favorite Christmas treats without adding inches to your waist, then don't miss this show.

The inaugural show also features Mary Walker Morton, from Nourish America (, a charitable organization that provides daily nutrition to impoverished Americans. She will join Dr. Mike to discuss her organization and the many ways you can help underprivileged people in your community this holiday season.

Dr Mike is committed to providing listeners with the most current health information available, and his weekly show is the place to interact with respected experts in the fields of health, wellness, fitness, and medicine.

"I was taught that learning is the beginning of health," said Dr. Mike. "And learning something new is what my show is all about."

Dr. Mike adds, "My job is to focus on my listeners and engage them in the conversation, while helping them apply what they learn in their daily lives."

Dr. Mike has been a guest lecturer for numerous anti-aging organizations in South Florida, and has appeared on several syndicated national radio shows. He is currently a recurring guest on The Suzanne Show with Suzanne Somers on the Lifetime Network and is presently seen in several regional infomercials as an expert guest. He has also appeared on Gem of the Caribbean, a television show dedicated to disease prevention.

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