Study: Vitamin D supplements don’t lower risk for heart disease

EAST LANSING, Mich. — If you’re taking vitamin D supplements every day to improve your heart’s health and reduce your chances of suffering from cardiovascular disease, you’re likely wasting your money, according to a new study.

Researchers from Michigan State University say that both men and women who take vitamin D aren’t any more protected against heart attacks, strokes, or related heart conditions than those who don’t. The authors were surprised by their discovery since prior research pointed to a link between lower levels of vitamin D in the blood and cardiovascular disease.

“We thought it would show some benefit,” admits co-author Mahmoud Barbarawi, a clinical instructor in the MSU College of Human Medicine and chief resident physician at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan, in a statement. “It didn’t show even a small benefit. This was surprising.”

For the study, researchers gathered data from 21 clinical trials, assessing results from more than 83,000 patients. Across these studies, half of the participants took vitamin D supplements, while the other half took placebos. The authors found similar rates of heart ailments and deaths related to cardiovascular disease in both groups.

Barbarawi says doctors shouldn’t suggest patients at higher risk of cardiovascular disease take the supplement.

“We don’t recommend taking vitamin D to reduce this risk,” Barbarawi says, noting that people who do take the supplement for other issues, such as osteoporosis, should continue doing so.

Vitamin D, of course, is produced naturally by our skin when exposed to the sun. Barbarawi believes that outdoor physical activity and a nutritious diet are more likely to be behind the findings of the earlier studies showing a connection to cardiovascular disease.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Cardiology.

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