logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Does Vitamin D Cause Heart Attacks?

Q. I get a health newsletter from a respected medical center. I noticed in the last issue that vitamin D could raise the risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 20 percent. Any comments?

A. Several research reports have created considerable confusion. A year ago researchers reported that people taking calcium supplements were 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those getting placebos (BMJ, online, July 29, 2010). Although this finding came from a meta-analysis of 11 studies involving over 12,000 people, many health professionals were skeptical and objected that vitamin D intake was not part of the analysis.

This year a new study in BMJ (online, April 19, 2011) confirmed the original finding with a twist. Even women taking vitamin D with their calcium had a higher risk (20 percent) of heart attack or stroke compared to placebo. We suspect that this is what your newsletter was reporting.

More recent research shows that vitamin D alone appears to protect men from heart attacks and strokes (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online, June 8, 2011). For more on the benefits and risks of vitamin D you may wish to review our Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency. Excess calcium may be the culprit, while vitamin D may be neutral or protective for the heart.

Rate this article
5- 1 rating
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.