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Date:1/17/2014

UV-B radiation in sunlight is the most important factor for the production of vitamin D, and that is why many people suffer from low levels of vitamin D during the winter months. Although certain foods do contain vitamin D, it is not usually possible to get an adequate supply of the vitamin from food. Many clinical studies have indicated that low vitamin D levels are related to cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, but also other diseases such as diabetes mellitus, autoimmune diseases and even cancer. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms were unclear.

Vitamin D deficiency leads to stiffening of the blood vessels

The two primary authors, molecular biologist Olena Andrukhova and medical doctor Svetlana Slavic, of the Institute of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Biophysics at the Vetmeduni Vienna, found that prolonged vitamin D deficiency can stiffen blood vessels. Examining the aorta, an elastic blood vessel that expands with each pulse of blood and then constricts again, the researchers showed that vitamin D deficiency makes the vessel less flexible. Andrukhova explains in detail: "Vitamin D enhances the production of the enzyme eNOS (endothelial nitric oxide synthase) in the inner layer of blood vessels, the endothelium. This is critical for the regulation of blood pressure. The enzyme produces a molecule called nitric oxide (NO), an important factor for the relaxation of smooth muscles in the blood vessels. When too little NO is formed, the vessels become less flexible. This ultimately leads to higher blood pressure which can give rise to other circulatory diseases. So indirectly, vitamin D controls blood pressure."

Co-author Slavic continues: "Stiffness of the blood vessels generally increases with age. Blood pressure amplitude thus tends to increase with age and leads to structural changes in the aorta. Elasticity deteriorates, and prolonged vitamin D deficiency can accelerate this process."

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Contact: Reinhold Erben
reinhold.erben@vetmeduni.ac.at
43-125-077-4550
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Source:Eurekalert  

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