Vitamin D, calcium keep blood pressure down

May 8, 2001 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Vitamin D, calcium keep blood pressure down

Taking a vitamin D supplement along with calcium may be a more effective way for older women to lower their blood pressure than taking calcium alone, German researchers from the Institute of Clinical Osteology Gustav Pommer in Hamburg report.

In their study of 148 women who were at least 70 years old, those who took calcium and vitamin D reduced their systolic blood pressure, lowered their heart rates and reduced levels of parathyroid hormone more than women who were treated with calcium alone.

In the study, about half of the group of elderly women was treated with 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium plus 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily, and about half took only 1,200 mg of calcium per day. Women over 70 years should consume 1,200 mg of calcium daily and 600 IU (15 micrograms) of vitamin D daily, according to Health Canada guidelines.

After 8 weeks, 81% of women taking both nutrients reduced their systolic blood pressure by at least 5 mm/Hg, compared with 47% of women taking only calcium. Systolic pressure, the top number in a blood pressure reading, measures pressure when the heart contracts. Similarly, 51% of women who took calcium and vitamin D experienced a decrease in heart rate by at least 5 beats per minute, compared with 18% of those treated with calcium alone, the report indicates.

The researchers explain that vitamin D is used by the parathyroid glands, four pea-sized structures that sit on the thyroid gland in the neck. These glands secrete a hormone that regulates the body's calcium levels. Calcium, in turn, helps to regulate blood pressure, although the mechanism is not completely understood, Dr. Lawrence Krakoff, a past president of the American Society of Hypertension, told Reuters Health.

Vitamins are not a substitute for blood pressure medications that patients may be taking. Do not discontinue treatments if you take calcium and vitamin D.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.