HypertensionHow does vitamin D work?

Vitamin D may lower blood pressure by affecting the renin angiotensin aldosterone system by suppressing renin123. Renin is a proteolytic enzyme secreted by the kidneys, which catalyzes the production of angiotensin, which, in turn, mediates extracellular fluid volume (blood plasma, lymph and interstitial fluid) and arterial vasoconstriction4

Parathyroid hormone (PTH) is associated with increased blood pressure5, with a larger effect on diastolic pressure6. PTH decreases with increasing serum 25(OH)D until about 30 ng/ml, after which there is little additional change7.

Vitamin D also increases insulin sensitivity8. Insulin resistance is a risk factor for hypertension910.

Arterial calcification increases blood pressure by stiffening the arterial walls11. Serum 25(OH)D levels are inversely correlated with arterial calcifications for those on hemodialysis12. Related to arterial stiffening is endothelial dysfunction. (The epithelium is the thin layer of cells that lines the interior surface of blood vessels.) Too little 25(OH)D13 and much calcium in the blood leads to endothelial dysfunction, which also contributes to increased blood pressure14. The paper by Rostand has a figure outlining his model for elevated blood pressure among African-Americans.

Page last edited: 09 May 2011


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  14. Rostand, S. G. Ultraviolet light may contribute to geographic and racial blood pressure differences. Hypertension. 1997 Aug; 30 (2 Pt 1): 150-6.