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Exercise to Boost Vitamin D


Vitamin D Reduces Heart Attack and Stroke Risk

Summer is just around the corner, which means more outdoor activities and sunshine. We’ve heard of vitamin D being referred to as the sunshine vitamin, and now, we have even more reason to get active outside to soak it in: reducing heart attacks and stroke risks.

Johns Hopkins researchers confirmed the relationship between vitamin D and exercise, showing that exercise boosts vitamin D stores, and the two together seemed to be more beneficial for protecting your cardiovascular system.

Interestingly enough, there was a common finding that not meeting the recommended physical activity level and being vitamin D deficient were also associated. Researchers drew upon 20 years of 10,000 health records to analyze heart attacks and stroke prevalence. Participants with the highest vitamin D levels had the lowest risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In particular, there was a 23% less chance of having a cardiovascular event when the physical activity levels were met and vitamin D blood serum levels were adequate.

We’ve heard that too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing, and the saying is true with vitamin D. If you are getting your daily recommendation of between 600 to 800 international units (IU) per day, you have reached an adequate amount of 20 nanograms per milliliter in your blood. This can easily be achieved by eating a balanced diet with foods fortified with D and staying active. Just 15 minutes of safe sun exposure produces 3,000 IU of vitamin D depending on your location. Or, you could drink 30 glasses of milk to achieve the same IU absorption (for comparison, not recommended). Recent studies regarding supplements have not been proven to have the same benefits for heart health.

The American Heart Association recommends getting more than 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. While that may sound overwhelming to start, break it into 5 days of 30 minutes of walking, which could even be split into two 15-minute segments to accommodate busy schedules. While the sun is shining this summer, take advantage of this win-win opportunity, but don’t forget to pay attention to your skin!

Published June 1, 2017

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