Sunshine Can Help Heal Heart Damage Linked to Cardiovascular Illness

February 16, 2018 Updated: March 10, 2018

Cardiovascular damage could be reversed by getting some sun, according to new research.

Our cardiovascular system can be affected by different diseases and conditions that include diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerosis. A study has revealed that vitamin D3—the sun vitamin—can help heal our cardiovascular system, thereby reducing the risk of a heart attack.

Vitamin D3 and Previous Findings

Vitamin D3 is produced naturally in our body when our skin is exposed to sunlight. It has traditionally been associated with bone health. However, studies in recent years have found it to be linked with heart health as well.

A 2011 study published in Kidney International Supplements explored the link between chronic kidney disease (CKD) and vitamin D deficiency. In the study, researchers observed that the majority of people suffering from CKD also had vitamin D deficiency. Researchers also found a link between cardiovascular abnormalities and low levels of vitamin D.

Another study published in the Journal of the Saudi Heart Association in 2015 found a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and increased cardiovascular disease. The study was based on an analysis of levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in adults and children. The observations helped researchers associate hypertension, coronary artery disease, and related cardiac events with low levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

However, neither of these studies established exactly how a vitamin D deficiency was related to heart health.

Recent Findings

The new study published in the International Journal of Nanomedicine was conducted under the guidance of Dr. Tadeusz Malinski, the Marvin and Ann Dilley White chair and distinguished professor at Ohio University. It was based on observations that heart attack patients often have vitamin D3 deficiencies. Considering this one of the risk factors of heart disease, Malinski and his team decided to find out how vitamin D3 can benefit the cardiovascular system and restore its ability to function.

In order to do this, Malinski decided to study the effect of vitamin D3 on the endothelial cells that regulate blood flow in our cardiovascular system. Malinski’s team developed nanosensors which had a diameter about a 1,000 times smaller than that of a human hair. The idea was to send these nanosensors into the endothelial cells and track the effect that vitamin D3 had on these cells.

The research led to the discovery that vitamin D3 stimulates the production of nitric oxide that regulates blood flow and prevents clotting of blood as it flows through the blood vessels. In addition, vitamin D3 was also found to reduce the level of stress caused by oxidation in the cardiovascular system. The vitamin can considerably restore a cardiovascular system that has been damaged by diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, and hypertension.

Therefore, vitamin D3 could be used as a treatment to restore damage caused by heart attack to the cardiac endothelium and reverse the impact of brain ischemia (stroke) on the capillary endothelium. It could also be used to treat diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypovolemia (decreased blood volume), and vasculopathy.

This discovery can radically change treatment options for cardiovascular disease. Malinski explains that while there are no known ways of restoring the health of endothelial cells, patients can now be treated with high doses of vitamin D3. He believes that this would be a cost-effective and simple treatment that could help repair the damage of the cardiovascular system, as no new drug needs to be developed.

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