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High doses of vitamin D are reducing artery hardness in just four months

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Atherosclerosis happens when the artery walls start to narrow and harden, eventually leading to a heart attack or stroke – and medicine’s standard response is cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, or bypass or angioplasty surgery.

But researchers have discovered that very high doses of vitamin D – six times more than the recommended daily allowance – is “significantly and rapidly reducing (arterial) stiffness,” says Anas Raed, lead researcher on the project from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

The 4,000 international units (IUs) dose achieved a 10 per cent reduction in arterial hardness in just four months when it was tested on a group of 70 African-Americans aged between 13 and 45, who were also overweight or obese. Vitamin D levels of black people tend to be lower because darker skin absorbs less sunlight, a precursor of vitamin D.

In their experiment, the researchers tested a variety of different doses of the vitamin for 16 weeks before assessing the stiffness of arteries with the pulse wave velocity technique. Some of the volunteers were also given a placebo, or dummy dose of vitamin.

(Source: PLOS ONE, 2017; 12: e0188424)

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