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Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

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Does Vitamin D Protect Against High BP?

Early Research in Young Women Suggests It Does
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 24, 2009 -- Women who do not have enough vitamin D before menopause may have an elevated risk of developing high blood pressure years later, new research suggests.

Vitamin D deficiency before age 45 was associated with a threefold increased risk for hypertension in midlife.

Researchers analyzed data from a Michigan Bone Health and Metabolism Study that followed 559 women in their late 20s, 30s, and early 40s for 15 years. Vitamin D levels were measured soon after the women entered the study and blood pressure readings were taken each year.

By the end of the trial, when the average age of the women was 53, about one in four had developed high blood pressure.

Vitamin D deficiency earlier in life appeared to be a predictor of hypertension more than a decade later, lead researcher Flojaune C. Griffin, MPH, tells WebMD.

The research was presented in Chicago at the American Heart Association’s 63rd High Blood Pressure Research Conference.

“This is preliminary data so we can’t say with certainty that low vitamin D levels are directly linked to high blood pressure,” says Griffin, who is a doctoral candidate in epidemiology at the University of Michigan. “But this may be another example of how what you do early in life impacts your health years later.”

Vitamin D: The Super Vitamin

The study is not the first to suggest that vitamin D may help protect against heart disease, and recent research has also implicated vitamin D deficiency as a possible risk factor for a host of other diseases, including multiple cancers, arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and even tuberculosis.

With the exception of bone diseases such as rickets and osteoporosis, which are clearly linked to vitamin D deficiency, none of these associations has been proven, however.

Exposure to sunlight is the easiest way to get enough of the vitamin, because the body uses ultraviolet rays from the sun to make vitamin D.

Many foods -- including milk, yogurt, breads, and cereals -- are fortified with vitamin D, but experts say that it would be very difficult to get adequate levels of the vitamin from food sources alone.

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