A recent study, conducted at the Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, suggests that vitamin D contributes to a healthy heart, and that an inadequate amount of the vitamin can lead to stroke or heart disease.
Researchers found that patients with extremely low levels of vitamin D were 45 percent more likely to develop coronary artery disease and 78 percent more likely to have a stroke than those with normal levels of the vitamin.
"This is important because vitamin D deficiency is easily treated," said Heidi May, one of the authors of the study. "If increasing levels of vitamin D can decrease some risk associated with these cardiovascular diseases, it could have a significant public health impact," she added.
Recent studies have also linked vitamin D to the regulation of blood pressure, glucose control and inflammation—three important risk factors related to heart disease.
The Office of Dietary Supplements says that very few natural foods contain vitamin D. The best known sources can be found in the flesh of salmon, tuna and mackerel as well as milk.