As the human body ages, flexible tissue fiber known as elastin begins to break down from years of continuous physical stress. This gradual breakdown has a number of adverse effects on the overall health and appearance of the body. Externally, as skin loses its elastin, wrinkles begin to appear. Internally, similar but more serious changes such as arteriosclerosis or "arterial stiffness" also begin to occur.
As the skin depends on elastin to remain taut and flexible, so do the walls of the vascular system that makes up the human circulatory system. Without the proper amount of healthy elastin present, the arteries stiffen and become increasingly unable to cope with the internal pressure they are meant to handle. Over time, this leads to damage not only of the vascular system itself but also to the organs to which it supplies.
The Study Explained
In an effort to better understand the connection between vitamin D and arterial stiffness, researchers at the Georgia Health Sciences University tested the effects of Vitamin D supplementation on 44 black teenagers. All of whom, as a population in general, are considered to be at increased risk for the condition than other ethnic groups.
The teens participating in the study were divided into two groups. One received the current daily recommendation of 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D as set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Board. The other group of teens was given an experimental serving five times that size, or 2,000 IU per day.
Both groups were closely monitored for a 16-week period, during which time the arterial stiffness of the participants was measured using a non-invasive technique known as "pulse wave velocity" that tracks the time sound waves take to travel a given distance within the arterial tract.
While all participants in the experimental 2,000 UI group were found to be fully vitamin D sufficient and exhibited relatively normal arterial elasticity for their age range, results in the control group were less encouraging.
The researchers found that, despite being exposed to more than adequate levels of sunshine and receiving the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D, most of the teens in the 400 IU control group still showed signs of premature arterial stiffness, leaving them at increased risk for future health concerns.
These findings, along with the numerous other health benefits associated with maintaining sufficient levels of vitamin D, make a strong case for dietary supplementation. Even for those who get plenty of sun exposure and regularly consume foods high in vitamin d.
Taking a Vitamin D Supplement
Vitamin D supplements are affordable and readily available. While they can be bought at almost any grocery store or pharmacy, finding a quality vitamin D supplement isn't always so easy. Only shop for the high-quality products with natural ingredients.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.