Vitamin D and Peripheral Artery Disease

November 12, 2012

Vitamin D and Peripheral Artery Disease

The peripheral artery disease, or PAD, occurs when cholesterol and calcium deposits get accumulated in the arteries of your legs and arms. Individuals with vitamin D deficiency are at an increased risk of developing PAD.

Peripheral Artery Disease

The peripheral arterial disease causes narrowing of the blood vessels of peripheral organs such as legs and arms. Also known as plaque, the cholesterol and calcium build ups along the walls of the blood vessels and obstruct the blood flow to these organs. It affects almost 8 million Americans each year. This can make your legs and arms feel numb and fatigued. Untreated PAD can leads to tissue death. The condition may spread to nearby organs such as the feet. Severe cases may require amputation. Individuals with PAD are also at an increased risk of other cardiovascular diseases including heart attack, stroke and transient ischemic attack. Healthy diet and exercise along with medications can be used to treat the condition.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is required for healthy bones and joint tissues. Most individuals require about 400 to 800 IU of the vitamin, depending on their age and overall health. You may get this from foods such as dairy products, cod liver oil, salmon and orange juice. Your body can also produce significant amounts of the vitamin when exposed to sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes, about three times in a week. However, the modern junk food diet and indoor lifestyle is leading to a deficiency of vitamin D. Apart from bone and cartilage loss, vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with peripheral arterial disease.

Link between PAD and Vitamin D

Researchers have known for a long time that peripheral arterial disease can affect your blood pressure. A recent research study tried to find a link between vitamin D and PAD by measuring blood vitamin D levels of over four thousand adults. The arterial blood flow was measured with the ankle brachial pressure index, a screening tool for PAD, which measures blood flow to the legs. Researchers of the study found that individuals with higher vitamin D were associated with a lesser chance of peripheral artery disease. In fact, low levels of vitamin D can increase your risk of PAD by almost two times. About 64 percent of people with PAD are likely to get a heart attack or stroke.

The exact connection between vitamin and peripheral arterial disease is not known. Some experts believe that elevated vitamin D levels indicate a healthy lifestyle, which may in turn, be responsible for the low incidence of PAD, while others believe that vitamin D affects cholesterol and calcium metabolism in the body and lowers the risk of plaque formation.

Side Effects

Before you start spending prolonged periods of time under the sun to elevate your vitamin D levels, remember that UV light exposure is associated with skin cancer. Increased use of vitamin D supplements to prevent peripheral arterial disease can lead to unwanted calcium deposits in the body along with kidney stones.

Tags: ,

Category: Articles