~ 032312 Vitamin D May Help Preserve Eyesight
VITAMIN D supplements may have wide-ranging anti-ageing properties including the preservation of eyesight, research suggests.
Middle-aged mice treated with the vitamin for six weeks underwent changes in their eyes that led to improved vision.
Levels of amyloid beta, a toxic protein linked to Alzheimer's disease and known to be a hallmark of ageing, were also reduced in the animals' eyes and blood vessels.
Although the research is still at an early stage, scientist believe it could have important implications for human health.
Boosting vitamin D intake may have broad anti-ageing effects and in particular help prevent loss of vision and blindness in older people, it is claimed.
Lead scientist Professor Glen Jeffery, from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London (UCL), said: "Finding that amyloid deposits were reduced in the blood vessels of mice that had been given vitamin D supplements suggests that vitamin D could be useful in helping to prevent a range of age-related health problems, from deteriorating vision to heart disease."
The research findings were published yesterday in the journal Neurobiology of Aging. The UCL team injected one-year-old female mice with safflower oil containing 0.9 micrograms of vitamin D every three days. A mouse year is roughly equivalent to 50 human years. Another group received injections of vitamin-free safflower oil.
After six weeks, tests which measured the electrical responses of retinal cells showed significant improvement in the vision of the treated mice.
Previous research in the US had found "mounting evidence" that lack of vitamin D was associated with a range of disorders including diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and some cancers.
Evolutionary history may explain the link between vitamin D deficiency and age-related diseases, said Prof Jeffery.
Most human evolution took place in Africa where the ancestors of modern humans were exposed to strong sunlight. They would not have been short of vitamin D, which is generated by the action of the sun's ultraviolet rays on the skin.
Prof Jeffery said: "Supplementing vitamin D could save us a lot of money and improve public health."
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