For heart health, let the sunshine in

Call it Old Faithful.

Vitamin D has been working its healing powers ever since the first rays of light came out of the sun.

And with all we already know that D can do, it's clear that we've only begun to scratch the surface.

This morning, I shared with you how folks who suffer from IBS tend to also be deficient in vitamin D... and how boosting their intake of D tends to make them feel better.

Well, now I've got another reason for you to bask in the sunshine -- and this one has to do with your heart.

You see, you may not feel like anything is wrong with your ticker, but over time, you could be experiencing "silent" damage in your chest without even knowing it.

Maybe it's from decades of low-level stress... or a few too many nights tossing and turning... or a few too many days of your blood sugar going all topsy-turvy on you.

None of these things may have knocked you down, but they could be wearing down your heart.

But according to a new study, vitamin D (a.k.a. the "sunshine" vitamin) can actually REVERSE years of wear and tear on your heart!

In the study, out of Ohio University, researchers put impossibly tiny sensors into human endothelial cells, which are the same type of cells that line your heart and blood vessels.

After the researchers exposed the cells to vitamin D, something very interesting happened: Concentrations of nitric oxide soared.

Now, if you've been reading my eTips for a while, you know that nitric oxide (NO) increases all-important blood flow to every part of your body, including your heart.

And in the study, that NO boost from vitamin D actually REPAIRED damaged heart cells -- and even regenerated cells that were beyond repair.

What's more, vitamin D also protected the cells from further damage by working as an antioxidant, countering oxidative stress (a common repercussion of stress and diabetes).

No wonder that vitamin D has previously been proven to reduce your risk of a heart attack!

So, show your heart -- and the rest of your body -- some love by beefing up your stores of vitamin D.

Your body naturally makes D when UV rays from the sun hit your skin, so spending about 20 minutes in the sun (without sunscreen) each day should do the trick.

You can even do some exercise outside -- because studies have shown that combining vitamin D with exercise is more beneficial for your heart than either one on its own.

But if it's often cloudy in your neck of the woods, you can also boost your intake by eating vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish, egg yolks, and mushrooms.

And since it gets harder to absorb nutrients from both the sun AND your food as we age, it's always a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement.

Just make sure it's the natural form (vitamin D3) rather than synthetic D2.