Search IconSearch

Vitamin D Supplements: Not a Quick Fix for Heart Disease

Research shows that high doses of vitamin D do nothing to lower your cardiovascular risk

closeup of person holding vitamin d gel capsule between fingers.

Everyone wants a magic pill when it comes to better health. So, when observational studies showed that people with higher levels of vitamin D had lower rates of heart disease, interest in vitamin D supplements jumped.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

It makes sense, right? If vitamin D can prevent cardiovascular disease, getting a high dose of it from supplements should help your ticker.

Unfortunately, heart health isn’t that easy. Let’s learn more from cardiologist Steven Nissen, MD.

Vitamin D and heart health

Vitamin D carries a well-earned reputation as a powerhouse nutrient. It helps your body absorb calcium to boost bone health. Vitamin D also supports your immune system and nervous system and can reduce inflammation in your body.

If your body doesn’t get enough vitamin D … well, it seems like problems often follow. Low levels of vitamin D seem to coincide with a wide range of health conditions — including heart disease.

But while there appears to be some sort of relationship between vitamin D and your heart, research shows that erasing cardiac concerns isn’t as simple as popping a vitamin D supplement.

A study released in 2017 shows that taking monthly high doses of vitamin D supplements does nothing to prevent cardiovascular disease. That held true even if participants started with a vitamin D deficiency.

Those results are in line with other assessments about dietary supplements and heart health: “This is yet another study showing that vitamins and dietary supplements have virtually no benefits in preventing heart disease,” notes Dr. Nissen.

In fact, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force says there’s insufficient evidence to recommend adults take vitamin D or any other supplement to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Risks of too much vitamin D

When it comes to vitamin D and your heart, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

Excessive amounts of vitamin D can lead to off-the-charts levels of calcium in your blood, a condition known as hypercalcemia. That can increase your risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), as calcium deposits build on blood vessel walls.

CAD can set the stage for a heart attack or congestive heart failure as time passes.

High levels of vitamin D in your system also can lead to kidney failure, kidney stones and bone-related issues such as osteoporosis, among other issues. (In other words, it can be serious if not addressed.)


Given all of that, Dr. Nissen urges caution with vitamin D supplements. He says it’s always best to talk with a healthcare provider before starting any supplement routine.

Final thoughts

Despite what you may read online under click-bait headlines, there aren’t any miracle pills or easy shortcuts to better heart health, emphasizes Dr. Nissen. (It’s a question he gets asked a lot, though.)

So, what can you do? He suggests focusing on building healthy lifestyle habits to keep your heart happy.

“Exercise, eat a healthy diet, manage your body weight and watch your cholesterol and blood pressure ­for any signs of trouble,” he advises. “Do that and you’ll be way ahead of the game.”


Learn more about our editorial process.

Health Library
Heart Disease Prevention

Related Articles

Smiling pregnant person speaking with healthcare provider in medical office
June 14, 2024/Heart Health
Why Your Heart Needs Special Attention When You’re Pregnant

Obesity, age and preexisting heart conditions can all raise your risk of cardiovascular disease during pregnancy

Bowl of artificial sweetener with a spoonful
June 7, 2024/Heart Health
Eating Foods With Xylitol Can Be a Risk to Your Heart

Xylitol in processed food can increase risk of heart attack and stroke — but there’s no danger in xylitol in oral care products

Person standing in kitchen holding glass of water in one hand and medication in the other
May 31, 2024/Heart Health
How To Get Rid of Chest Pain at Home

If your provider has ruled out a serious cause, you can treat chest pain at home with antacids, inhalers or anti-inflammatory medications

Hand holding cellphone with walking app, with feet walking and footprints
May 17, 2024/Exercise & Fitness
Should You Aim To Walk 10,000 Steps a Day?

Walking is a great goal, but how many steps are best for you depends on factors like your fitness level and age

Person talking with doctor on a virtual call about vitamins
May 13, 2024/Nutrition
Yes, You Can Take Too Many Vitamins

If you’re taking supplements, it’s important to understand which vitamins and minerals you can get too much of, like vitamin C and calcium

Healthcare provider listening to a patient's heart with stethoscope in exam room
Is Joint Pain Linked to Heart Disease?

Research shows a strong association between rheumatoid arthritis and heart issues

Heart-healthy foods in a heart-shaped dish on wooden table with other heart-shaped filled bowls
April 26, 2024/Nutrition
Heart-Healthy Foods To Add to Your Grocery List

Eating more natural, whole foods can lower your risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases

Person reclining on couch wearing compression socks
April 3, 2024/Heart Health
How To Raise Your Blood Pressure Immediately at Home

First things first — slowly sit or lie down

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims