Buffalo, NY; Atlanta, GA—According to a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, those with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood may have a decreased risk for developing early age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that could lead to blindness. Amy E. Millen, Ph.D., of the School of Public Health Professions, University of Buffalo, New York and her team investigated data from 1,313 women to see if low vitamin D levels in the blood were linked to this debilitating disease.

When looking at the entire study group, no relationship was established between vitamin D status and early/progressive AMD. But in women younger than 75, higher vitamin D levels were related to a decreased risk of early AMD; and, in women 75 years and up, higher levels were linked to an increased risk. Stated the researchers, “Additionally, among women younger than 75 years, intake of vitamin D from foods and supplements was related to decreased odds of early AMD in multivariate models; no relationship was observed with self-reported time spent in direct sunlight.”

A separate study also cites low levels of vitamin D as a risk factor of disease, this time for cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Participants in this 557-person study who had higher vitamin D levels had better blood pressure levels and vascular health. In fact, the researchers felt that after adjusting for several factors, those with vitamin D deficiency (less than 20 nanograms per milliliter) “had vascular dysfunction comparable to those with diabetes or hypertension.”

Data were presented at the annual American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans by Ibhar Al Mheid, MD, a cardiovascular researcher at Emory University School of Medicine. The study took place at Emory University and Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, June 2011