It could be a couple of years before formal recommendations are established for taking higher doses of vitamin D as a way to help prevent or treat heart disease, but some doctors aren\'t waiting.
This month, doctors at Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee began giving a mega-dose of 100,000 international units of vitamin D to all patients with chest pains. After that, they are advised to take 2,000 IU a day, said John Whitcomb, an emergency room physician with the hospital.
Other Aurora hospitals are considering doing the same thing, he said.
Given that the current recommendation for adults is 600 IU a day, that\'s a considerable departure from the norm, although 2,000 IU a day is considered to be safe for adults.
More and more studies are linking vitamin D deficiency, which is common in large segments of the U.S. population, especially in the winter, to increased risk of heart disease and other ailments.
This month, a review article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology came to a similar conclusion.
It said heart patients who have insufficient vitamin D levels should be treated with one dose of 50,000 IU a week for eight weeks. Pills of 50,000 IU generally are available only as a prescription. After eight weeks, patients can take 50,000 IU every two weeks, or 1,000 to 2,000 IU a day.
The authors recommended vitamin D3, which can be found over the counter at drugstores.
\"Vitamin D supplementation is simple, safe and inexpensive,\" the authors wrote.