Ohio University study shows Vitamin D3 could help heal or prevent cardiovascular damage

Public Release: 30-Jan-2018


Ohio University

ATHENS, Ohio (Jan. 29, 2018) – A new study conducted by Ohio University scientists suggests that a little more sunlight might help restore damage to your cardiovascular system.

The study shows that Vitamin D3 – which is made by the body naturally when skin is exposed to the sun – can significantly restore the damage to the cardiovascular system caused by several diseases, including hypertension, diabetes and atherosclerosis. Vitamin D3 supplements are also available over-the-counter.

The study, by Marvin and Ann Dilley White Chair and Distinguished Professor Dr. Tadeusz Malinski and two graduate students, Alamzeb Khan and Hazem Dawoud, has been published in the International Journal of Nanomedicine.

“Generally, Vitamin D3 is associated with the bones. However, in recent years, in clinical settings people recognize that many patients who have a heart attack will have a deficiency of D3. It doesn’t mean that the deficiency caused the heart attack, but it increased the risk of heart attack,” Malinski said. “We use nanosensors to see why Vitamin D3 can be beneficial, especially for the function and restoration of the cardiovascular system.”

Malinski’s team has developed unique methods and systems of measurements using nanosensors, which are about 1,000 times smaller in diameter than a human hair, to track the impacts of Vitamin D3 on single endothelial cells, a vital regulatory component of the cardiovascular system. A major discovery from these studies is that vitamin D3 is a powerful stimulator of nitric oxide (NO), which is a major signaling molecule in the regulation of blood flow and the prevention of the formation of clots in the cardiovasculature. Additionally, vitamin D3 significantly reduced the level of oxidative stress in the cardiovascular system.

Most importantly, these studies show that treatment with vitamin D3 can significantly restore the damage to the cardiovascular system caused by several diseases, including hypertension, atherosclerosis, and diabetes, while also reducing the risk of heart attack. These studies, performed on cells from Caucasian Americans and African Americans, yielded similar results for both ethnic groups.

“There are not many, if any, known systems which can be used to restore cardiovascular endothelial cells which are already damaged, and Vitamin D3 can do it,” Malinski said. “This is a very inexpensive solution to repair the cardiovascular system. We don’t have to develop a new drug. We already have it.”

These studies, performed at Ohio University, are the first to identify the molecular mechanism of vitamin D3-triggered restoration of the function of damaged endothelium in the cardiovasculature. While these studies were performed using a cellular model of hypertension, the implication of vitamin D3 on dysfunctional endothelium is much broader. The dysfunction of endothelium is a common denominator of several cardiovascular diseases, particularly those associated with ischemic events.

Therefore, the authors suggest that vitamin D3 may be of clinical importance in the restoration of dysfunctional cardiac endothelium after heart attack, capillary endothelium after brain ischemia (stroke), hypovolemia, vasculopathy, diabetes and atherosclerosis. This suggestion is strongly supported by several clinical studies which indicate that vitamin D3 at doses higher than those currently used for the treatment of bone diseases, may be highly beneficial for the treatment of the dysfunctional cardiovascular system.

“Professor Malinksi has an international reputation for outstanding and innovative research related to the cardiovascular system,” Ohio University Dean of Arts and Sciences Robert Frank said. “This latest work is yet another example of his impact on this field.”


Malinski’s research on nanomedicine, the development and application of nanosensors, and nanobiotechnology is published regularly in academic journals, such as Nature, Lancet, Circulation, Diabetes, and Hypertension. In addition to research, Malinski teaches advanced chemistry classes at Ohio University. Malinski has been presented with more than 35 awards and distinctions from around the world. This includes Maria Curie Medal for biomedical research, the Grand Gold Medal in medicine from the French Society of Arts-Science-Letters, and most recently in 2016 the prestigious Albrecht J. Fleckenstein Memorial Award by the International Academy of Cardiology for his contributions to fundamental research in cardiology.

Ohio University strives to be the best student-centered, transformative learning community in America, where more than 40,000 students realize their promise, faculty advance knowledge, staff achieve excellence, and alumni become global leaders. OHIO is committed to fostering, embracing, and celebrating diversity in all its forms. Our Athens Campus offers students a residential learning experience in one of the nation’s most picturesque academic settings. Additional campuses and centers serve students across the state, and online programs further advance the University’s commitment to providing educational access and opportunity. Visit http://www.ohio.edu for more information.

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