Vitamin D deficiency is becoming a widespread health concern in the United States. A 2009 study published in the “Archives of Internal Medicine” estimated as many as 77 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is essential for bone health, but it also helps regulate the levels of minerals in your body -- including minerals important for heart function. As a result, vitamin D deficiency can cause changes in mineral levels, which in turn can negatively affect your heart. If you're suffering from heart palpitations, seek immediate medical attention.
Vitamin D: The Basics
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that is essential for bone health. It is responsible for the regulation of certain minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Vitamin D can be obtained by eating oily fish such as salmon or milk that is vitamin D fortified; however, maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D through diet alone is not likely. Vitamin D is also made by your body when you skin is exposed to the ultraviolet B rays from the sun. Recent pushes for sunscreen use and the prevention of skin cancer has led to the increase in vitamin D deficiency as sunscreen blocks these rays.
Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to heart palpitations because if its importance in calcium regulation. Calcium is a mineral that is essential to bone and heart health. It can be found in foods such as dairy products, fish, spinach, kale and broccoli. Calcium is dependent on vitamin D for absorption, and low vitamin D levels also affect the levels of calcium in your body. Hypocalcemia, or low calcium levels, can cause symptoms such as numbness and tingling in the extremities, muscle cramps, poor appetite and abnormal heart rhythms and palpitations.
Vitamin D's interaction with magnesium also affects your heart. Magnesium is an essential mineral in the body and, according to the National Institutes of Health, is responsible for over 300 different chemical reactions in your body. Vitamin D plays a role in the regulation of magnesium in your body, and low levels of vitamin D can affect the levels of magnesium. A magnesium deficiency can cause symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disorders, muscle spasms, seizures and abnormal heart rhythms and palpitations. Increased vitamin D supplementation, according to the National Institutes of Health, is sometimes used to treat people with a magnesium deficiency.
Signs of Danger
A palpitation, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, is a feeling that your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering in your chest or beating extremely hard or fast. You may experience these feelings in your chest or neck. Palpitations can be triggered by a variety of different reasons including physical activity, certain medications, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and certain medical conditions and vitamin deficiencies. While some palpitations can be linked to arrhythmias and heart conditions, they are very common and are usually not serious. If you experience heart palpitations, consult with your physician to rule out any possible medical concern.
- "Archives of Internal Medicine"; Demographic Differences and Trends of Vitamin D Insufficiency in the US Population, 1988-2004; Adit A. Ginde, MD et al.; March 23, 2009
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: What are Palpitations?
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium
- MedlinePlus: Magnesium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.