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May 26, 2015

Vitamin D Supplements Fail to Reduce Blood Pressure

While low vitamin D levels are associated with high blood pressure, supplements are not enough to effectively lower blood pressure.

Although research suggests that vitamin D is linked to high blood pressure, it’s unclear whether taking vitamins to increase vitamin D levels works to lower blood pressure levels. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine analyzed 46 trials testing the effect of vitamin D supplements on blood pressure.

Among the 46 trials included in the study, a total of 4,541 patients were assigned to either daily vitamin D supplements or an inactive placebo drug for at least one month. During each study, researchers collected blood pressure measurements and other relevant health information, such as weight and co-existing conditions.

After comparing both individual patient data and the overall findings for each study, researchers found that vitamin D supplements had no significant effect on blood pressure. In other words, patients taking vitamin D supplements had similar changes in blood pressure as those taking an inactive placebo drug.

Based on these findings, authors conclude that vitamin D supplements should not be used as treatment for high blood pressure. Researchers also argue against routine vitamin D measurements in patients with hypertension, since treating low vitamin D levels may have little effect on overall blood pressure levels.

As authors explain, it’s likely that low vitamin D levels may be impacted by other factors like aging, obesity and smoking that can promote high blood pressure, among other diseases. It’s also possible that low vitamin D doesn’t actually cause high blood pressure, although many patients with high blood pressure also have low vitamin D levels.

Since we have a number of effective treatments for high blood pressure, it’s most important to implement these strategies to lower high blood pressure. It’s well established that healthy lifestyle choices like eating healthy and staying active can prevent and treat high blood pressure. And when necessary, blood pressure-lowering medications can help reduce blood pressure levels and reduce risk for complications from high blood pressure, like heart attack and stroke.

However, that’s not to say that vitamin D supplements are useless. Vitamin D helps keep bones dense and strong, especially as we get older. Many studies show that vitamin D supplements help protect against fractures and may even reduce risk for death in older adults. So while vitamin D supplements may not be an effective treatment for high blood pressure, taking daily supplements may still be beneficial for many adults.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is vitamin D?
  • Vitamin D is an essential dietary nutrient, which can be found in foods like fish, eggs and fortified milk. Our bodies can also product vitamin D in response to exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D plays a number of important roles in our body, like helping with the absorption of calcium, and studies have shown that vitamin D deficiencies may be linked to increased risk for heart disease.
  • Who is at risk for vitamin D deficiency?

  • Those at greatest risk for vitamin D deficiency include breast-fed infants, older adults, people with dark skin, people with fat malabsorption and people who are obese or have undergone gastric bypass surgery.

Featured Video

Did you know that 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure, which could lead to a stroke or heart attack?

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