Men who have low levels of vitamin D have a higher risk of heart attack, according to new research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
In this study, 18,255 healthy men aged 40 to 75 had their blood levels of vitamin D collected between 1993 and 1995. After ten years, 454 of the men suffered heart attacks or were diagnosed with heart disease.
The researchers found that men with a low level of vitamin D in their blood had more than double the risk of developing heart disease compared to those with adequate blood levels of the "sunshine vitamin".
A low level of vitamin D was defined as less than 15 nanograms per milliliters (ng/ml) of blood. An adequate blood level was defined as higher than 30 ng/ml.
The study authors say Health Canada's current daily recommended intake (200 to 600 IU) of vitamin D should be increased. Vitamin D recommendations varies according to age.
Food sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, fortified milk, some brands of fortified orange juice, margarine, and oily fish like salmon, herring and mackerel. One cup (250 ml) of milk provides 100 IU of vitamin D.
In June 2007, the Canadian Cancer Society recommended adults supplement with 1000 IU of vitamin D daily to help prevent cancers. Between October and March, Canadians lack sufficient sun exposure to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D in their skin.
Lack of sun exposure, in addition to limited food sources of vitamin D, can make it impossible for Canadians to get 1,000 IU of vitamin D each day - the amount needed to reach a blood level thought to be protective from cancer.
Most multivitamin supplements provide between 400 IU of vitamin D per dose. Vitamin D supplements come in 400, 800 and 1,000 IU doses.
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