It’s rare that when one thinks of heart disease they think of epithelial cells. Yet, more and more research is showing that the health of your heart, arteries, veins and all of your cardiovascular system is dependent upon their health.
What Are Endothelial Cells?
The thin layer of cells that line the interior surface of all blood vessels are endothelial cells (sometimes referred to as the endothelium). It’s important to note that these cells line the entire circulatory system from the heart all the way down to the smallest capillary.
Even though the endothelium is only one cell thick and can’t even be seen by the human eye, it’s an active and multi-functional organ that plays a vital role in metabolic, immunologic, and cardiovascular health.
Changes or damage to the endothelium have been linked to several serious health conditions including high blood pressure, insulin resistance, diabetes, tumor growth, virus infections, and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Vitamin D3 And The Epithelium
A recent study published in the International Journal of Nanomedicine suggests that vitamin D3 (the sunshine vitamin) — a version of vitamin D that our bodies produce naturally when we expose our skin to the sun — plays a key role not only in preserving but also restoring the damage to the endothelium that occurs in these conditions. Other natural sources of D3 include eggs (from the yolks), caviar, beef liver, and fatty fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel. It’s also obtainable in the form of supplements like this well balanced D3 or a high quality cod liver oil.
Senior author Tadeusz Malinski, a professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, said while vitamin D3 is already well known for its role in bone health, “in recent years, in clinical settings people recognize that many patients who have a heart attack will have a deficiency of D3.”
”It doesn’t mean that the deficiency caused the heart attack,” he adds, “but it increased the risk of heart attack.”
The Effect Of D3 On Epithelium: The Study
Prof. Malinski and colleagues developed a measuring system using nanosensors, or tiny probes that are 1,000 times smaller than the thickness of human hair and can operate at the level of atoms and molecules.
The team used the nanosensors to track the impact of vitamin D3 on molecular mechanisms in human endothelial cells that had been treated to show the same type of damage that occurs from high blood pressure.
The findings suggest that vitamin D3 is a powerful trigger of nitric oxide, which is a molecule that plays an important signaling role in the control of blood flow and the formation of blood clots in blood vessels.
The researchers also found that vitamin D3 significantly reduces oxidative stress in the vascular system.
They note that their study “provides direct molecular insight to previously published observations that have suggested that vitamin D3 deficiency-induced hypertension is associated with vascular oxidative stress.” The effects of vitamin D3 were similar in both Caucasian and African American endothelial cells.
Could Vitamin D3 Reverse Cardiovascular Damage?
The study authors note that while their findings came from tests performed on a cellular model of high blood pressure, “the implications of the influence of vitamin D3 on dysfunctional epithelium is much broader.”
They suggest that vitamin D3 has the potential to significantly reverse the damage that high blood pressure, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and other conditions inflict on the cardiovascular system.
”There are not many,” Prof. Malinski adds, “if any, known systems which can be used to restore cardiovascular endothelial cells which are already damaged, and vitamin D3 can do it.”
How Do You Know If Your Vitamin D3 Is Low?
If you relate to several of the following symptoms, testing is probably a good idea.
- Getting sick easily or often
- Chronic pain (often in your bones)
- Gut issues
- Wounds that don’t heal
- Head sweating
- Bones that break easily
- Hair loss
The only way to be certain that you have a vitamin D deficiency, however, is through a blood test. The 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D is often included in a basic panel that might be ordered during a routine visit.
You can also order it online (without a doctor’s order) at True Health Labs. Just add the test to your cart and search for the draw location closest to you. Their test is listed simply as “vitamin D test” but is the same 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test you’ll need in order to check and monitor your levels.
What Are Considered Sufficient Vitamin D Levels?
Here’s how the Vitamin D Council breaks it down:
- Deficient: 0-40 ng/ml
- Sufficient: 40-80 ng/ml
- High Normal: 80-100 ng/ml
- Undesirable: > 100 ng/ml
The general consensus among physicians is to aim for a level of 50-60 ng/ml.
Your Test Results Are In – What Now?
Based on your test results, you can use this as an average guideline to get your levels up.
If Your Levels Are: You Need This Much Vit. D3:
Anything past 100 ng/ml
7,400 - 10,000 IU
7,000 - 9,700 IU
5,800 - 8,600 IU
4,600 - 7,300 IU
3,000 - 5,700 IU
To learn more about the benefits of vitamin D, read "The Vitamin D Solution" by Dr. Michael F. Holick.
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