Low Vitamin D tied to Diabetic Cardiovascular Disease

Low Vitamin D status in diabetics makes them more likely to have cardiovascular disease according to new research.  Women with type 2 diabetes, have a third more low vitamin D status than women of the same age who don’t have diabetes.

Why do diabetics have lower Vitamin D levels?  There are several theories but it may be because more diabetics are fat than nondiabetics.  Those who are overweight may sequester the vitamin in their fat cells.  Heavier people may not go out of doors as frequently where they can make vitamin D.  When they do,  the Vitamin D created is spread over more interior body area since skin area increases less than interior mass.  And those who lack gallbladders or good digestion may not process the fat-soluble vitamin as easily.

All people with low levels of Vitamin D are more likely to develop heart disease.  Studies at Intermountain Medical Center found that patients with very low levels of Vitamin D were 77 % more likely to die, 45 % more likely to develop coronary artery disease, and 78 % were more likely to have a stroke than patients with normal levels. Patients with very low levels of Vitamin D were also twice as likely to develop heart failure than those with normal Vitamin D levels.  Since their “high vitamin D” group included people with levels as low as 30 ng/ml (versus 50-100), this may understate the importance of Vitamin D.

When diabetics have low Vitamin D, the cholesterol they make or consume is not properly processed.  Vitamin D inhibits the uptake of cholesterol by cells called macrophages due to its signaling mechanism.  When the macrophages become clogged with cholesterol, they become foam cells, one of the first markers of atherosclerosis.  They cluster and form plaques in the blood vessels, especially at sites of inflammation.   It is worse in diabetics because they typically have inflamed blood vessels from excessive blood insulin and blood sugar, and inflammation attracts macrophages.

While herbs like turmeric or drugs like statins can lower inflammation, the real cure is to change to a low carbohydrate, non-inflammatory diet, to avoid dietary allergens like gluten, casein or soy protein and to exercise in the sun between 11 am and 1 pm or to supplement with high levels of Vitamin D3.

From Science Daily:

Why Low Vitamin D Raises Heart Disease Risks In Diabetics

ScienceDaily (Aug. 25, 2009) — Low levels of vitamin D are known to nearly double the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes, and researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis now think they know why.

more at:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090821211007.htm


  1. Oh J, Weng S, Felton SK, Bhandare S, Riek A, Butler B, Proctor BM, Petty M, Chen Z, Schechtman KB, Bernal-Mizrach L, Bernal-Mizrachi C. 1,25 (OH) vitamin D inhibits foam cell formation and suppresses macrophage cholesterol uptake in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Circulation, 2009; 120 (8): 687-698 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.856070
  2. Washington University School of Medicine (2009, August 25). Why Low Vitamin D Raises Heart Disease Risks In Diabetics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 4, 201
  3. Intermountain Medical Center (2009, November 16). Inadequate levels of vitamin D may significantly increase risk of stroke, heart disease and death. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 4, 2010

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