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Vitamin D supplementation is recommended by the NHS during the autumn and winter months, but people might benefit from taking one all year round.
Research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) suggested vitamin D supplements might reduce the risk of a heart attack.
In the largest trial of its kind to date, the researchers investigated whether supplementing older adults with vitamin D altered the rate of cardiovascular events.
Involving 21,315 Australians aged 60 to 84, across a five-year period, the participants either received one capsule of 60,000 IU vitamin D monthly or placebo.
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Those with a history of high calcium levels, an overactive thyroid, kidney stones, soft bones, or inflammatory disease were excluded from the study’s findings.
Participants who were already taking more than 500 IU/day vitamin D were also excluded.
Data on hospital admissions and deaths were then used to identify major cardiovascular events, such as:
- Heart attacks
- Coronary revascularisation.
Coronary revascularisation is a type of treatment to restore normal blood flow to the heart.
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During the trial, 1,336 participants experienced a major cardiovascular event (6.6 percent in the placebo group and six percent in the vitamin D group).
Among 1,000 participants, there were nearly six fewer major cardiovascular events in the vitamin D group compared to the placebo group.
Delving into the data, the rate of a heart attack was 19 percent lower in the vitamin D group.
And the rate of coronary revascularisation was 11 percent lower in the vitamin D group.
There was, however, no difference in the rate of stroke between the vitamin D and placebo groups.
The researchers noted: “This protective effect [of vitamin D] could be more marked in those taking statins or other cardiovascular drugs at baseline.”
“In the meantime, these findings suggest that conclusions that vitamin D supplementation does not alter risk of cardiovascular disease are premature.”
Further investigation within a wider population is needed to draw more firm conclusions.
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