March 2, 2012

How one supplement stops macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s

On Wednesday, I showed you how grapes can help prevent macular degeneration. While eating a phytonutrient-rich diet will go a long way toward preventing it, this is a very difficult disease to prevent and treat. So I always suggest throwing everything you can at it, including supplements. A new study looked at one supplement in particular and found that it can have a dramatic impact. What’s more, they found that it also may help Alzheimer’s disease.

In this study, the researchers treated middle-aged mice with vitamin D for six weeks. The vitamin apparently helped lower toxic beta amyloid in their eyes and blood vessels. You might know beta amyloid as the protein that accumulates in Alzheimer’s disease. It also affects your eyes.

In the study, the animals actually got better vision. It also reduced the numbers of macrophage cells. While these cells are an essential part of your immune defense, higher numbers can mean unwanted inflammation in your body.

While this study was on mice, not humans, it illustrates the importance of vitamin D to your health. It also suggests that vitamin D could be useful in preventing the beta amyloid buildup seen in Alzheimer’s.

Continued Below...

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What’s interesting is that vitamin D, made by ultraviolet light striking your skin, helps your vision. Having macular degeneration is NOT a reason to stay out of the sun, nor is it a reason to block all UV (with UV blocking glasses) from reaching your eyes. My eye doctor mentor Ed Kondrot, MD, teaches that a lack of UV light might be just as harmful to your eyes.

People today spend too much time indoors. God made us to be in the sun, not inside all the time. If you can’t get outdoors, I suggest taking supplemental vitamin D (5,000 IU daily). I’ve not seen that dose of vitamin D be problematic for anyone, even with long-term use.

Ref: Neurobiology of Aging. Published online January 4, 2012.

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