Chronic hypertension can have detrimental effects throughout the body, in part by damaging endothelial cells (the cells that line the inner blood vessels) and disrupting healthy vascular function. Luckily, other factors protect endothelial cells and preserve normal vascular function. According to findings from an in-vitro study in the International Journal of Nanomedicine, vitamin D may be one of those factors. To explore this possibility, researchers simulated the effect of hypertension on endothelial cells donated by Black and White subjects by exposing these cells to a biochemical that raises blood pressure: angiotensin II. Angiotensin II affects endothelial cells by decreasing their production of nitric oxide—a vascular relaxant that helps blood flow—and increasing their production of peroxynitrite—a vascular constrictor that restricts blood flow. When researchers added vitamin D into the environment surrounding the hypertensive endothelial cells, they found it reversed the effects of angiotensin II: nitric oxide concentrations increased and peroxynitrite levels decreased.
Poor vascular function is a major concern not only in people with hypertension but also in people with other cardiovascular risk factors, including obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol. This study’s findings begin to shed light on the ways in which vitamin D may contribute to blood vessel health. To raise your vitamin D levels, spend time in the sun, which stimulates your body to synthesize the vitamin—just be sure to practice sun safety. If you have limited sun exposure, consult with your healthcare practitioner to see if a vitamin D supplement is a good option.
Source: International Journal of Nanomedicine