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How to Improve Heart Function with One Simple Nutrient
By Dr. Jen Morganti, NEEDS Education Director

Heart failure is a disease that becomes more prevalent with age. In this condition, the muscles of the heart are compromised and less able to contract and push blood out into the body. Drugs such as betablockers, ACE inhibitors, digoxin, and calcium channel blockers are typically prescribed to treat heart failure and improve ejection fracture. Lifestyle improvements and weight loss are also recommended.

Patients with heart failure tend to have higher rates of vitamin D deficiency, so this recent study evaluated the effects of vitamin D supplementation to restore vitamin D levels and potentially improve heart failure.

This small study looked at a group of heart failure patients, averaging 74 years old, with low vitamin D levels. Half the group took 4,000 IU vitamin D daily for 25 weeks, and the other half took a placebo. Blood tests and ejection fracture rates were evaluated at the beginning of the study and at 25 weeks.

The group taking vitamin D successfully increased that nutrient level by over 95% and the placebo group increased vitamin D levels just under 9%. The vitamin D group experienced an improvement in ejection fracture rate by over 20%, but the placebo group worsened. The vitamin D group also showed an improvement in heart contraction efficiency by lowering systolic blood pressure.

Vitamin D is related to mitochondria activity, and can support ATP production. ATP is required for muscle contraction, so this may be the link between vitamin D and heart muscle function. One of the side effects of vitamin D deficiency is muscle fatigue; therefore, restoring vitamin D levels to normal can help improve functioning of peripheral muscles and heart muscles. Vitamin D absorption, intake, and utilization can become compromised in elderly, so supplementation is often required.

Dalbeni A. Effects of six months of vitamin D supplementation in patients with heart failure: A randomized double-blind controlled trial. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2014 Mar

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