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Vitamin D levels associated with age-related
April 28, 2011 -- Women under the age of 75
with high vitamin D status were less likely
to have early age-related macular
degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of
irreversible vision loss in adults, a
University at Buffalo study has shown. The
disease affects approximately 9 percent of
Americans aged 40 and older.
The paper is published in the April issue of
"Archives of Ophthalmology," one of
the JAMA/Archives journals.
Vitamin D status was assessed using the
blood measure of 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25
(OH) D. The 25 (OH) D level is generally
considered the means by which nutritional
vitamin D status is defined.
"In women younger than 75, those who had
25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations lower
than 38 nanomoles per liter were more likely
to have age-related macular degeneration
than women with concentrations greater than
38 nanomoles per liter," says Amy E. Millen,
PhD, assistant professor in the UB School of
Public Health and Health Professions and
"Blood concentrations above 38 nanomoles per
liter were associated with at least a 44
percent decreased odds of having AMD."
She notes that the Institute of Medicine
considers an adult with a blood 25
hydroxyvitamin D concentration of lower than
30 nanomoles per liter to be at increased
risk of vitamin D deficiency and a person
with a concentration of less than 50
nanomoles per liter to be at increased risk
for vitamin D inadequacy.
Millen's "Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye
Disease Study (CAREDS)" involved data from
The purpose of the study was to investigate
if serum 25 hydroxyvitamin D levels in the
blood, the preferred biomarker for vitamin
D, were associated with early age-related
macular degeneration. CAREDS is an ancillary
study within the Women's Health Initiative (WHI)
Observational Study, which was conducted at
WHI clinic centers in Oregon, Iowa and
Wisconsin. UB is a major participating
center in the WHI.
"The take- home message from this study is
that having very low vitamin D status
(25-hydroxyvitamin D blood concentrations
lower than 38 nanomoles per liter) may be
associated with increasing your odds of
developing age-related macular
degeneration," says Millen.
"But based on these study findings, being at
a higher vitamin D level than 38 nanomoles
per liter does not appear to be more
protective," she cautions.
Vitamin D status may be increased by
spending moderate amounts of time outside,
and eating foods rich in vitamin D, such as
fatty fish from cold waters, and foods
fortified with vitamin D, such as milk and
fortified cereal, or by taking supplements.
"This is a promising study, but more still
needs to be done," says Millen. "We still
don't understand all of the effects of
Vitamin D on health."
The research was funded by the NIH and by
Research to Prevent Blindness.
The University at Buffalo is a premier
research-intensive public university, a
flagship institution in the State University
of New York system and its largest and most
comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000
students pursue their academic interests
through more than 300 undergraduate,
graduate and professional degree programs.
Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo
is a member of the Association of American