Are there some people who shouldn't be taking supplements containing vitamin D and just get what they need of the vitamin from healthy foods? According to a December 3, 2009 article in HealthDay Daily News, "Vitamin D May Be Tied to Heart Disease Via Genes," if you have a specific gene variant that reduces vitamin D activation in the body and high blood pressure, according to a new study, you were found to be twice as likely as those without the variant to have congestive heart failure as well as the high blood pressure, the study found.
Also see the Dec 3, 2009 UPI article, "Heart failure linked to vitamin D gene," (U.S. researchers linked congestive heart failure to a gene variant affecting vitamin D activation.) What does this study mean for consumers of vitamin supplements? See, "Heart failure linked to gene variant affecting vitamin D activation."
The purpose of the study is to hopefully identify people at increased risk for heart disease, according to Robert U. Simpson, an assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Michigan Medical School and his research colleagues, as reported by HealthDay Daily News.
Can vitamin D in excess possibly be tied to heart disease if you have specific types of genes?
Why are so many consumers rushing to wolf down higher and higher doses of vitamin D3 supplements without knowing whether they are deficient? And why is there so much about vitamin D in the media these days? There are blood tests to determine whether you need extra vitamin D. And if you do, how do you know whether you have the genetic variant that processes vitamin D differently than most people?
The University of Michigan Medical School researchers analyzed the genetic profiles of 617 people. One-third had hypertension, one-third had hypertension and congestive heart failure, and the remaining third served as healthy controls. Scientists found that a variant in the CYP27B1 gene was associated with congestive heart failure in people with hypertension. The study is in the November 2009 issue of the journal Pharmacogenomics.
Previous research showed that mutations that inactivate the gene reduce the conversion of vitamin D into an active hormone
"This study is the first indication of a genetic link between vitamin D action and heart disease," Simpson noted in a news release from the University of Michigan. "If subsequent studies confirm this finding and demonstrate a mechanism, this means that, in the future, we may be able to screen earlier for those most vulnerable and slow the progress of the disease," he added, according to the news release.
When consumers examine this study, the main question arises as to whether someone with the gene mutation should or should not take supplements of vitamin D. For example, would the vitamin D from vitamin pills quicken the path towards congestive heart failure in a person with high blood pressure and the gene mutation, or would extra vitamin D be beneficial and slow down the decline?
Does the gene variant that inactivates the gene prevent vitamin D from dietary sources from being converted into an active hormone?
Or is more vitamin D needed? Does the gene mutation cause vitamin D to calcify the aorta or not? What should persons with the gene mutation and high blood pressure eat--more or less vitamin D either in supplements or dietary means? That's the question consumers would like to know when they read the study. The natural form of vitamin D is vitamin D3.
Do you have the gene mutation? Did anyone in your family have it? Could you find out whether you've inherited that specific gene mutation? What are some of the risks of taking too much vitaminD? Where can you go to find out whether you have the gene mutation, assuming you also have high blood pressure and a family history of hypertension and congestive heart failure. Those are health questions consumers would like to have answered.
What are the risks of taking vitamin D supplements? Do you have that specific gene mutation?
Researchers at Johns Hopkins are reporting what is believed to be the first conclusive evidence in men that the long-term ill effects of vitamin D deficiency are amplified by lower levels of the key sex hormone estrogen, but not testosterone, according to a November 17, 2009 news article, "Effects Of Vitamin D Deficiency Amplified By Shortage Of Estrogen."
In a recent national study of men presented on Nov. 15, 2009 at the American Heart Association's (AHA) annual Scientific Sessions in Orlando, FL, researchers reported that the new findings build on previous studies showing that deficiencies in vitamin D and low levels of estrogen, found naturally in differing amounts in men and women, were independent risk factors for hardened, narrowed arteries and weakened bones.
What does vitamin D actually do?
It plays an important role in calcium balance so you get normal bone strength. The major function of vitamin D is to improve the efficiency of calcium absorption from the small intestine, according to Dr. Ray Sahelian's newsletter and nutrition information sites. Can taking too much vitamin D calcify your aorta? What are the risks? And do you have to inherit a specific gene variation for vitamin D to calify your coronary arteries? What does the research show?
What happens to the way your body handles, absorbs, or builds up vitamin D after menopause when the estrogen level plummets? And were you born with or without the gene variation that takes the vitamin D3 you eat along with the calcium and calcifies your arteries with it instead of putting it into your bones where it belongs? How do you find a genetics/DNA test to tell you whether you have inherited that genetic mutation or variation?
Epidemiological data show low levels of vitamin D lead to a higher incidence of breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, as well as multiple myeloma, according to Dr.Sahelian's site. Patients with Crohn's disease are known to have low levels. Vitamin D supplementation may even improve mood during the winter months, according to Dr. Sahelian. But you'd be better off taking less than more until you know how much you'll really need of vitamin D.
Scientists repeatedly warn vitamin consumers of the danger regarding excessive intake. Vitamin D taken in high amounts can cause excessive calcification of bone, calcification of soft tissue, kidney stones, headaches, weakness, nausea, and vomiting.
The answer right now is that no one knows exactly the long-term effects of high dose daily use of vitamin D. Find out whether or not you need to supplement at all. Research is ongoing. In the meantime, are you taking a teaspoon full of cod liver oil that already has 400 units of vitamin D in it along with some vitamin A? Look at the label and see whether it tell you the vitamin content of the oil. How do you compare the different answers given by your various healthcare professionals?
When you take all those vitamin D3 supplements that are recommended in so many articles in the media, how do you know whether your body will use it to protect your organs against bone loss or use it to send calcium deposits into your organs, heart valves, and arteries?
Find out from your doctor whether or not your blood test tell you that you may or may not need to supplement. Does your diet have plenty of vitamin D? Do you get enough sun exposure?
Most people may benefit from taking 400 units a day either as part of a multivitamin product and a balanced diet. A few people without much sun exposure and a poorer diet, or if you live in latitudes where there's not much sun, might benefit from 600-800 units of vitamin D3. But so many radio talk shows tell you that you should be getting more vitamin D.
The only questions scientists have is that over a long term, we don't know what the risks are. You're doctor should talk with you if you have chronic medical conditions whether you need up to 1,000 units daily. But the question is for how long without posing a risk of calcifying your arteries from too high a dose for too long a time of taking supplements of vitamin D.
When you do take a supplement, be sure it's natural vitamin D3, not synthetic vitamin D2. The conclusion is the final word is not yet in on the danger of calcifying your brain and arteries with too much vitamin D supplementation.
Why take the risk when you can keep your supplementation, if any, to a dose related to what your body needs. You can find out what vitamin deficiencies you have by taking a test to see what's actually absorbed into your cells and what's just floating in your bloodstream.
What needs to be evaluated right now is whether other genes that control calcium homeostasis are involved in the pathogenesis of this disorder
In plain language, how many gene variations control the way calcium and vitamin D3 are processed in your own body? And how can you find out? Are there genetic tests that show you how your body handles vitamin D3?
The media is full of articles saying that the 400 mg of vitamin D3 is too little to protect you against cardiovascular problems, that you probably need 1,000 mg. But what happens if you have a genetic variation or mutation that communicates to your body in a different way, where when you take vitamin D3 and calcium in supplements or at high food intakes, that the calcium doesn’t go into your bones, but into the arteries and valves around your heart? Will vitamin K2 in the MK-7 form protect you from calcification if you have this genetic variation? And where can you find out if it will? All these answers require scientific studies, namely, research.
You may wish to check out another article at BioMed Experts, Osteoporosis and calcification of the aorta, Bone and Mineral, 1992;19(2):185-94,1992: Frye M A; Melton L J; Bryant S C; Fitzpatrick L A; Wahner H W; Schwartz R S; Riggs B L, notes, “Aortic calcification was not associated with any measures of calcium metabolism, after adjusting for age, except for a slight negative association between linear aortic calcifications and 25(OH) vitamin D levels (P < 0.05).”
Or see another abstract of a 2003 article, "Influence of sex and estrogen on vitamin D-induced arterial calcification in rats" notes, "It is known that the process of arteriosclerosis is affected by sex and estrogen. The present study was thus undertaken to examine the effects of these factors on arterial calcification, a form of arteriosclerosis, using a rat model of vitamin D toxicity.
The article concludes with, “These results suggest that sex and estrogen can modify the process of arterial calcification. The mechanisms remain to be determined, although the effects were independent of serum calcium level.”
Will taking vitamin K2 in the MK-7 form help you if you have this gene variation whereby taking too much vitamin D starts to calcify your aorta? Or not? Only science can tell you for sure, and the science needs to be tailored to your individual genes. Is science ready yet? Have they developed a test? Or does science still not know yet how many genes need to be tested to see how your body handles vitamin D3 and calcium?
You hear all the talk about increasing your daily natural vitamin D3 intake from 400 mg to at least 1,000 mg to prevent arterial calcification, bone loss, and certain diseases. The media says so many diseases could be due to too low vitamin D3 intake. But what happens if you have a certain gene variation that instead causes vitamin D3 to calcify your aortic valves?
There is some early research that high amounts of vitamin D, such as 2,000 iu, taken daily for many months or years may lead to calcification of arteries, according to Dr. Ray Sahelian's newsletter. How do you know what to take?
Until more studies are published we prefer to be cautious and have people only take one or two vitamin D 400 iu a day. Some doctors are recommending daily dosages of 1000 units or higher. Research in medical journals report that many people in this country are not getting enough of this vitamin. But what is the right dosage for supplementation so you don't calcify the arteries in your brain or heart?
If you have a particular gene variation, does vitamin D cause calcification of your aorta?
See the article at the CAT. Inst. site. Another article in the Journal of Vascular Research, Aortic Calcification Produced by Vitamin D3 plus Nicotine, notes that “Calcification of the elastic arteries of the young rat by treatment with vitamin D and nicotine (VDN) has been proposed as an animal model of arterial calcification associated with age and age-related vascular pathology in man.
The calcium-binding protein, S-100, which is found in human atherosclerotic lesions was associated with medial calcification of the aorta in VDN rats, especially in cases of severe calcification.” The abstract’s conclusion is that, “In conclusion, the mechanisms and consequences of aortic calcification in VDN show several similarities with calcification occurring in human athero- and arteriosclerosis.”
You may wish to check out the conclusion of the article in the MD Consult Preview, The vitamin D receptor genotype predisposes to the development of calcific aortic valve stenosis. - Ortlepp JR - Heart - 01-JUN-2001; 85(6): 635-8 (MEDLINE is the source for the citation and abstract of this record) that notes, “There is a significant association of vitamin D receptor polymorphism with calcific aortic valve stenosis. The B allele of the vitamin D receptor is more common in patients with calcific aortic valve stenosis. It now needs to be evaluated whether other genes that control calcium homeostasis are involved in the pathogenesis of this disorder.”
See the article, at: Oxford Journals, Cardiovascular Research, titled, Uraemic hyperparathyroidism causes a reversible inflammatory process of aortic valve calcification in rats. Uraemic hyperparathyroidism causes a reversible inflammatory process of aortic valve calcification in rats Renal failure is associated with aortic valve calcification (AVC). Our aim was to develop an animal model for exploring the pathophysiology and reversibility of AVC, utilizing rats with diet-induced kidney disease.
You may wish to read the publication, Heart, and Education in Heart, a peer review journal for health professionals in all areas of cardiology. The article, Cardiovascular medicine, “The vitamin D receptor genotype predisposes to the development of calcific aortic valve stenosis”, J R Ortlepp, R Hoffmann, F Ohme, J Lauscher, F Bleckmann, P Hanrath, tests the hypothesis that vitamin D receptor polymorphism is associated with calcific aortic valve stenosis.
The conclusion noted, “There is a significant association of vitamin D receptor polymorphism with calcific aortic valve stenosis. The B allele of the vitamin D receptor is more common in patients with calcific aortic valve stenosis. It now needs to be evaluated whether other genes that control calcium homeostasis are involved in the pathogenesis of this disorder.”
What this means is if you have a genetic variation, which is a polymorphism on your vitamin D receptor, it may have an association with calcification of your aortic valve
How do you know whether you have this particular gene variation that makes your body react a certain way to vitamin D3 by developing calcium deposits in your aortic valve? What should you do? Keep asking whether the test is ready yet. And keep searching to find out whether science has found all the genes necessary to tell you how your body handles vitamin D3 supplements versus natural food intake, calcium, magnesium, and fish oils containing vitamin D3. Until you know, eat whole foods, get enough sunshine or other natural light, and keep researching.
Find out whether you have the B allele of the vitamin D receptor
Science knows those with it, at least in rats and some human patients, it is more common to see calcification of the aortic valve. But because it is more common, how does that tell us whether the gene variation is a risk? Or how many genes or alleles are involved? That's why you have to keep asking those experts that are talking about health care with you.
Also, on the subject of food cravings, according to the article, “Combat Your Food Cravings,” in the June 2009 issue of Natural Solutions magazine, page 79, if you crave sweets, what your body really needs are trace amounts of chromium, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur, and tryptophan. You can get all of these in small amounts from the following foods: To get enough chromium, eat broccoli, grapes, cheese, dried beans, and chicken. Think about this. But do you agree with this information you read in popular consumer magazines on health not meant for your doctor to read, but for the general consumer?
How can you find out whether this idea has been validated in credible medical journals? Where can you turn to for nutrition information after reading interviews in magazines?
The only problem with articles where health professionals are interviewed is where can you go to validate all these statements in scientific studies or journals if references aren't listed in a sidebar? Where can you find the resources without having to subscribe to the medical journals? Start with the public library or some of the online nutrition sites that have references.
17 November 2009 - Researchers at Johns Hopkins are reporting what is believed to be the first conclusive evidence in men that the long-term ill effects of vitamin D deficiency are amplified by lower levels of the key sex hormone estrogen, but not testosterone [read article].