(NaturalNews) Although the link between low Vitamin D status and chronic disease has been well known for some time, a new study has shed further light on the role of Vitamin D in cases of hypertension and congestive heart failure.
Researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin analysed genetic data from 617 individuals stored at the Marshfield Clinical Personalized Medicine project, a DNA databank. They separated the group equally into a healthy control group, those with high blood pressure and those with high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, and it became clear that there was a striking correlation between those who suffered from both ailments and a deviation in the CYP27B1 gene, which reduces the rate that the body converts stored vitamin D into its active form.
Robert Simpson was one of the authors of the study. "This study revealed that a critical enzyme absolutely required for production of the vitamin D hormone has a genetic variant associated with the development of congestive heart failure," he said. "If subsequent studies confirm this finding and demonstrate a mechanism, this means that in the future, we may be able to screen earlier for those most vulnerable and slow the progress of the disease."
Although more likely to suffer from hypertension and CHD, individuals with this genetic disposition will not necessarily succumb to poor health. It is important to note that not individuals who expressed the deviation in the CYP27B1 showed chronic disease and this altered gene does not stop the body from using Vitamin D; instead, it slows the rate that calcidiol is converted into calcitriol (this is the `active` form of Vitamin D). This means that affected individuals may require significantly more UVB exposure/dietary Vitamin D than average, although this research is still to be done before any true comparison can be made. "This initial study needs to be confirmed with a larger study that would permit analysis of the full cardiovascular profile of the population possessing the gene variant," added Simpson.
A variation in the CYP27B1 gene has previously been associated with an increased risk of developing Type 1 Diabetes, and more research is expected to further elucidate both the role of this gene and Vitamin D in general in a range of degenerative disease. Meanwhile, this latest research is unlikely to change recommendations made in nutritional clinics, although it gives rise to the possibility that, in future, tests may exist to identify those who require more Vitamin D than average. Mainstream medicine is yet to welcome the use of Vitamin D, regardless of the wide array of protective effects it has been shown to have on cancer, CHD, hypertension, depression, auto-immune conditions and insulin sensitivity. This latest research represents more useful insight into the function of this powerful nutrient, and another slow step towards acceptance of this fat-soluble vitamin as an important weapon in the fight against chronic disease.
American Heart Association (2008). Lack Of Vitamin D May Increase Heart Disease Risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 5.
Bailey R, Cooper JD et al (2007). Association of the vitamin D metabolism gene CYP27B1 with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes, 56(10):2616-21
Wilke RA, McCarthy CA et al (2009). Genetic variation in CYP27B1 is associated with congestive heart failure in patients with hypertension. Pharmacogenomics, 10(11):1789-97
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