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Vitamin D may lower cholesterol

By Tim Sandle     Mar 16, 2014 in Health
A new randomized trial has found that vitamin D appears to reduce levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. The results were drawn from a study of post-menopausal women.
For the study, scientists randomly assigned 576 post-menopausal women to either a daily dose of 400 units of vitamin D and 1,000 milligrams of calcium, or a placebo. The researchers then tracked the health status of the women for three years.
At the end of the study, it was found that the vitamin D group had significantly higher serum levels of vitamin D, and a small but notable drop in LDL.
Vitamin D is responsible for enhancing intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. In humans, the most important compounds in this group are vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol) and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Although vitamin D is commonly called a vitamin, it is not actually an essential dietary vitamin in the strict sense, as it can be synthesized in adequate amounts by most mammals exposed to sunlight.
Throughout the trial the science team controlled for initial vitamin D level, smoking, alcohol consumption and more than 20 other variables. Still, they say, their randomized, double-blind design and the use of blood tests for vitamin D levels give the study considerable strength.
"We don't have enough here to say that we've figured it all out," lead author, Dr. Peter F. Schnatz, a professor of internal medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia told the New York Times. The change in LDL, Schnatz said, "is significant, and in the right direction, but maybe not enough to say that we're going to prevent people from getting heart disease."
Due to the small size of the study, no conclusions about the effect of vitamin D on cardiovascular health should be drawn from the findings. However, the research does pave the way for similar studies.
The findings have been published in the journal Menopause. The paper is titled "Calcium/vitamin D supplementation, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and cholesterol profiles in the Women's Health Initiative calcium/vitamin D randomized trial."
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