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Vitamin D prevents arterial plaque in diabetics to lower heart disease risk

(NaturalNews) Diabetics' risk of developing heart disease or suffering a fatal heart attack are nearly doubled due to the devastating effect of insulin dysfunction and high blood glucose levels. Experts estimate that as many as one in three Americans will be affected by diabetes through the year 2050, a strong indicator that rates of cardiovascular disease and death from heart attack will skyrocket in a linear fashion. Fortunately, diabetes and heart disease are preventable through proper diet, physical activity, lifestyle alterations and a host of natural compounds including vitamin D.

A research team from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has determined that people with diabetes often develop clogged arteries that cause heart disease, and suggest that low vitamin D levels are to blame. Publishing in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, principal investigator, Dr. Carlos Bernal-Mizrachi commented "About 26 million Americans now have type 2 diabetes... 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."

Vitamin D is shown to significantly lower macrophage adhesion to prevent arterial clots

A number of past studies have clearly demonstrated the critical importance of maintaining optimal vitamin D levels to reduce the risk of heart disease. This research set out to establish the relationship between white cell macrophages, typically responsible for fighting pathogenic invaders, and the development of foamy arterial plaque that restricts blood flow to the heart. Macrophages keep arterial walls clear when they become activated as a result of inflammation.

To carry out the study, researchers evaluated vitamin D levels in 43 people with type 2 diabetes and in 25 others who were similar in age, sex and body weight but didn't have diabetes. They found that in participants with low vitamin D blood levels (fewer than 30 ng/mL), macrophages were much more likely to adhere to the inner endothelial lining of the vessels, where they trigger the collection of oxidized LDL cholesterol particles that form foamy plaque deposits. The vessels are then much more prone to become stiff and block normal blood flow.

The scientists examined a relationship between blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes control, body weight and race, and found that vitamin D was the only factor that influenced arterial plaque formation. Dr. Bernal-Mizrachi concluded "Previous studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to increases in cardiovascular disease and in mortality... our work has suggested that vitamin D may improve insulin release from the pancreas and insulin sensitivity." As studies are being conducted to determine if optimizing vitamin D levels (50 to 70 ng/mL using the standard 25(OH)D blood test) can actually treat heart disease in diabetics, daily supplementation with the prohormone is a prudent measure for all at-risk adults.

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