Danish researchers have connected taking vitamin D with blood pressure levels, in a new report presented The European Society of Hypertension.
A group of patients with high blood pressure, who were given vitamin D supplements for a 20-week period during the winter months, showed ‘significant‘ improvement in their condition, reported The Telegraph.
The research suggested that people with high blood pressure who live in countries with low levels of sun in winter, such as Denmark, may benefit from supplements during winter.
Vitamin D is mostly made in the skin from sunlight, although some can be obtained from food.
In the UK, around one in three adults (16 million) have high blood pressure and the British Medical Journal say more than 50% of the adult population have insufficient levels of vitamin D during winter and spring.
Study leader Dr Thomas Larsen said: "Probably the majority of Europeans have vitamin D deficiency, and many of these will also have high blood pressure. What our results suggest is that hypertensive patients can benefit from vitamin D supplementation if they have vitamin D insufficiency."
He also underlined that vitamin D ‘would not cure’ the condition - and a larger study was needed ‘to provide solid evidence’.
Nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville told HuffPost Lifestyle: “Natural food sources of vitamin D are few. It’s found in oily fish and eggs, and fortified foods such as margarines and breakfast cereals.”
She points out that vitamin D is vital for bone health, and may also play a role in cancer prevention, and promoting healthy hearts and joints.
D Glenville adds: “During summer, it’s important to remember we will not manufacture vitamin D through the skin if we are wearing a sun cream. Women’s moisturisers and cosmetics often contain sun protection factors, so you may not be aware you’re not exposing your skin to the sun. It is estimated we need about 30 minutes each day to produce enough vitamin D.”
NHS guidelines advise a daily 10mcg vitamin D supplement ‘should be given to people who are not exposed to much sun’, as well as to other “at risk” groups such as pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people aged 65 and over.
Mushrooms have the capacity to produce vitamin D when they are exposed to sunlight. But because they are usually grown in the dark, not all mushrooms have the essential vitamin in them. Portabello mushrooms on the other hand, are grown under an ultra-violet light, which means they are rich in vitamin D.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are a great source of vitamin D. They are packed with an antioxidant called astanxanin, which helps the body create a natural sunscreen. Great for protecting your skin from the sun, whilst also getting an adequate amount of sunshine.
A little bit of sunshine spurs the body to make more vitamin D. Due to risks of skin cancer, it's best to stick to a small amount each day with low, or little sunscreen to enable your body to fully absorb the rays.
If you want a quick vitamin D fix, stock up on vitamins and supplements. These aren't to be used as a food replacement but they do help boost your vitamin D intake. Just be aware that there is such a thing as too much vitamin D, so make sure you read the label. Cod liver oil is also a great supplement to help increase the body's vitamin D levels.