A DAILY dose of vitamin D could help to lower blood pressure and improve fitness, a Scottish conference will hear today.
Experts from Queen Margaret University (QMU) gave volunteers the vitamin supplement each day for two weeks and found they were able to cycle for longer with less exertion than the group taking the placebo.
Blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol were also lower compared with the group taking a dummy pill.
Researcher Dr Raquel Revuelta Iniesta, from QMU Edinburgh, said: “Our pilot study suggests that taking vitamin D supplements can improve fitness levels and lower cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure.”
In the fitness test, volunteers taking vitamin D were able to cycle 6.5 km in 20 minutes at the end of the two weeks compared with five km at the start.
Despite cycling 30 per cent further than participants given the placebo, they showed lower signs of exertion.
Previous studies have indicated that vitamin D blocks the action of an enzyme needed to make cortisol, which is though to raise blood pressure by narrowing the blood vessels.
More than 10 million people in the UK are deficient in vitamin D, which is normally obtained through sunlight on the skin.
Lead author Dr Emad Al-Dujaili, also from QMU, said: “Vitamin D deficiency is a silent syndrome linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and a higher risk for certain cancers.
“Our study adds to the body of evidence showing the importance of tackling this widespread problem.”
The scientists plan to follow up the small study, with a larger clinical trial.
The findings will be presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Endocrinology, in Edinburgh.