Vitamin D and LDL - Cholesterol Levels: Is There a Link?

by Dr. Simi Paknikar on  March 19, 2014 at 12:10 PM Health In Focus
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A recent study from the journal Menopause suggests that vitamin D may be associated with a reduction in the levels of bad cholesterol. This could therefore benefit the heart.
Vitamin D and LDL - Cholesterol Levels: Is There a Link?
Vitamin D and LDL - Cholesterol Levels: Is There a Link?

Vitamin D is not merely a vitamin; it is more of a hormone. The effects of vitamin D in maintaining bones are well known. Vitamin D has also been used to prevent other conditions like psoriasis and certain cancers.

A recent study found that the level of LDL was reduced in postmenopausal women who received daily supplements of vitamin D and calcium for a period of two years. LDL-cholesterol increases the thickness of blood vessels and reduces blood flow to the heart, which can precipitate a heart attack.

Though the study was relatively small, it points out to the possible benefits of vitamin D in protecting against heart disease. However, it must be remembered that excessive vitamin D can also be harmful and therefore should not be indiscriminately used.

Vitamin D Rich Foods

Vitamin D can be formed by the skin when exposed to sunlight. In addition, several foods are rich in vitamin D. These include:

Fatty fish like salmon and tuna and fish liver oil

Egg yolk

Mushrooms

Foods fortified with vitamin D which may include cooking oil, orange juice, milk, yogurt and ready-to-eat cereals.

Cholesterol Range

When you get a cholesterol test done, you will come across several values. Here is a rough guideline on how to interpret them:

Total cholesterol level: The level indicates the total cholesterol level in the blood. It should ideally be less than 200 mg/dL; a level of 240 mg/dL or higher is considered high.

LDL cholesterol level: The LDL cholesterol is notoriously related to heart disease. It should ideally be maintained at a level of less than 100 mg/dL and less than 70 mg/dL in people who are at a high risk or suffer from heart disease. A level of less than 130 mg/dL is acceptable in most patients.

VLDL cholesterol is also considered as a bad cholesterol, whose levels should be maintained between 5 and 40 mg/dL.

HDL cholesterol: While it is necessary to keep cholesterol levels low, there is one type of cholesterol - HDL cholesterol - which is good for the heart. Therefore, higher levels of HDL cholesterol are actually beneficial. Levels above 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/DL in women are considered desirable.

References:

1. Schnatz, Peter F. et al. Calcium/vitamin D supplementation, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and cholesterol profiles in the Women's Health Initiative calcium/vitamin D randomized trial. Menopause doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000188.

2. http://ods.od.nih.gov/pdf/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional.pdf

3. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000386.htm

Source: Medindia

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