Your arteries are meant to be pliable – able to expand and contract as the blood whooshes round. But when those arteries stiffen up and lose their flexibility, blood pressure rises because there is not enough give in the pipes. Broken blood vessels are behind modern lifestyle diseases.
The standard advice to prevent this hardening of the arteries, atherosclerosis, is to stop the thickening in the first place, by watching cholesterol levels.
If your blood vessels have stiffened up – you may want to try a dose of sun, to get them curling and twisting around.
Vitamin D levels linked to blood vessel flexibility
Cardiovascular researchers at Emory University recorded the vitamin D status of 554 staff members and monitored the flexibility of their blood vessels.
Quite a few staff members did not meet the current acceptable levels for vitamin D
- 14 % were below 20 ng/ml making them deficient
- 33 % were below 30 ng/ml making then insufficient
The staff members with the lower vitamin D levels had the stiffest arteries.
NOTE : Many Vitamin D scientists believe the minimum should be 40 ng/ml, optimum levels are a lot higher than this.
Could Vitamin D be switching on blood vessel elasticity ?
Vitamin D was definitely impacting on artery stiffness in this group of people. When participants were checked 6 months later, those whose vitamin D status had improved, had also improved their vascular health and showed lower blood pressure readings.
Vitamin D is a master switch – controlling the on/off button for lots of genes.
The details of how vitamin D is creating more flexible tubes, has still to be unravelled.
It could be through
- helping the muscles surrounding the blood vessels to contract more efficiently or
- through reducing the levels, of one or more of the hormones, that regulate blood vessel size or
- it may simply be through reducing inflammation.
Vitamin D the new antihypertensive ?
Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) underlies cardiovascular disease. Inflexible blood vessels can block up, causing heart attacks and thrombosis or burst, causing strokes.
Almost 50 % of people working at Emory University did not meet minimum vitamin D levels. Put another way, 1 in 2 people aren’t getting enough vitamin D – make sure you’re not one of them !
You don’t need an expensive prescription to get a dose of vitamin D. Spend a few minutes in the sun every day or swallow vitamin D rich foods or supplements.
Vitamin D will help your blood vessels, by giving them a little extra elasticity, so the blood curls round the corners and keeps moving, allowing you to score well on that blood pressure reading.
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