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.
They have found that diabetics deficient in vitamin D can't process cholesterol normally, so it builds up in their blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. The new research has identified a mechanism linking low vitamin D levels to heart disease risk and may lead to ways to fix the problem, simply by increasing levels of vitamin D.
"Vitamin D inhibits the uptake of cholesterol by cells called macrophages," says principal investigator Carlos Bernal-Mizrachi, M.D., a Washington University endocrinologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "When people are deficient in vitamin D, the macrophage cells eat more cholesterol, and they can't get rid of it. The macrophages get clogged with cholesterol and become what scientists call foam cells, which are one of the earliest markers of atherosclerosis."
According to Dr. Robert O. Young, Director of Research at the pH Miracle Living Center explains, "Vitamin D deficiency is due to an increase in metabolic and dietary acids. This will cause the increase in cholesterol to bind up the excess acidity to protect the cells, tissues and organs that sustain life. When you increase blood plasma Vitamin D and you will naturally reduce dietary and metabolic acids and the need for the acid binding benefits of cholesterol. This then prevents the potential of acid build-up on the walls of the arteries and thus Vitamin D becomes an excellent prevention against atherosclerosis."