Staying Healthy Newsletter - <em>In the news:</em> Vitamin C Mimics Exercise Benefit: New Studies on Vitamin D & Health
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In the news: Vitamin C Mimics Exercise Benefit: New Studies on Vitamin D & Health

Vitamin C Benefits Cardiovascular Health

Results of a new study conducted at the University of Colorado, Boulder, suggests that daily supplements of vitamin C can have similar benefits for blood vessels as walking in adults who are overweight and obese (1).

It’s the job of a protein called endothelin-1 (ET-1) to constrict small blood vessels when needed. But ET-1 is overactive in the vessels of people who carry excess weight. The higher ET-1 activity makes small vessels less responsive to blood flow demands, promotes inflammation, and increases the risk of developing high blood pressure and vascular disease such as stroke and heart attack.

In the 3-month study, 35 inactive overweight or obese participants with poor vascular tone were divided into two groups: one group of 20 received 500 mg of vitamin C daily with no change in their physical activity, while the other group of 15 took a brisk walk 5-7 times weekly. At the study’s end, the supplemental vitamin C lowered ET-1 related blood vessel constriction as well as the regular walking did.

This study is fairly small and the results need to be confirmed in larger and longer trials. However, the findings might be helpful for those who find it challenging to include exercise in their daily routine. Less than half of obese or overweight patients who are counseled to exercise for better health actually follow through on this advice, according to the researchers.

Keep in mind, though, that a daily brisk walk yields many benefits: it strengthens the heart, helps keep LDL-cholesterol and blood pressure levels in check, tones muscles, boosts energy, and lifts your mood.

New Reviews/Studies on Vitamin D & Health

A number of studies have been recently published on vitamin D that merit attention. Here’s a brief summary:

Vitamin D & Falls – In a pilot study (2), homebound seniors received a high dose vitamin D supplement or placebo monthly for 5 months through the Meals-on-Wheels program. Over half of the seniors had low vitamin D blood levels, and less than a quarter of them had optimal levels at the start of the study. At the conclusion, vitamin D levels had significantly improved in most of the participants in the supplemented group, and the rate of falling in that group was more than cut in half. Other studies have also reported fewer falls in seniors when low vitamin D levels were corrected.

Vitamin D, Acute Respiratory Infection & Asthma – Seven clinical trials that examined the effects of vitamin D in preventing acute respiratory infections (ARI) in childhood were reviewed (3). While the reviewers found no reduction in ARI in healthy kids, children with asthma were 74% less likely to experience worsening of their asthma symptoms.

Genetic Study Supports Link Between Vitamin D & MS Risk A number of factors, both genetic and environmental, can influence the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), and possibly the severity of the disease as well. Research increasingly points to inadequate blood levels of vitamin D as one of those risk factors.

A new study (4) in those genetically prone to low vitamin D adds weight to the idea that the vitamin plays a role in MS. The findings were based on the genetic profiles of about 14,500 people with MS and 24,000 healthy people serving as controls. Looking at those with and without the disease showed that those with the genetic susceptibility to low vitamin D were at least twice as likely to have MS. Whether improving vitamin D levels can delay or prevent MS onset merits further investigation according to the authors.


  1. Dow C, et al. Vitamin C supplementation reduces ET-1 system activity in overweight and obese adults. 14th Inter Conf on Edothelin: Physiol, Pathophysiol and Therapeutics, Savannah, GA. Sept. 4, 2015.
  2. Houston DK, et al. Delivery of a vitamin D intervention in homebound older adults using a Meals-on-Wheels program: A Pilot Study. J Am Geriatr Soc. Aug 16, 2015 [Epub ahead of print]
  3. Xiao L, et al. Vitamin D supplementation for the prevention of childhood acute respiratory infections: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Br J Nutr. Aug 27, 2015 [Epub ahead of print]
  4. Mokry LE, et al. Vitamin D and Risk of Multiple Sclerosis: A Mendelian Randomization Study. PLoS Med. 25;12(8): e1001866, Aug, 2015.
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