Vitamin D pills may go a long way toward lowering high blood pressure in individuals more prone to hypertension, new research shows.
Medical investigators with Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found African-American hypertension patients were able to lower their blood pressure by taking vitamin D supplements.
"This study may explain and help treat an important public health disparity," said John Forman, M.D., a physician in the Renal Division and Kidney Clinical Research Institute at BWH who led the study, published online in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
"More research is needed, but these data may indicate that vitamin D supplementation lowers blood pressure in African-Americans."
To conduct the study, researchers tracked 250 African-Americans placed on a three-month regimen of daily vitamin D supplementation at various doses that ranged between 1,000 and 4,000 units. A fourth group received an inactive placebo.
The results showed those in the placebo group saw their blood pressure rise, but those taking supplements experienced decreases in systolic pressure — the top number in a blood pressure reading — by one to four points, with those receiving the highest doses benefiting the most.
"The gains were modest, but significant," said Dr. Forman. "If further research supports our finding, widespread use of vitamin D supplementation in African-Americans could have significant public health benefits."
This study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program.
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