In this study, vitamin D3 reduced the accumulation of amyloid beta. I've talked about amyloid beta in other posts on Alzheimer's disease, and interestingly, in April I discussed a study showing vitamin D3 may remove amyloid beta in Alzheimer's patients (it was just an in vitro study, so don't get too excited...although this study gives more weight for D3 against amyloid beta).
Now, I never knew this, but it looks like amyloid beta is also implicated in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in older people.
The macula is an area about 5 mm diameter on the retina. It's coloured yellow because of the "macular pigments"--lutein and zeaxanthin, which we get from our diet. These compounds filter the harmful blue light than can damage the rods and the cones (cells in the eye). As we age, levels of these pigments decrease naturally, allowing more blue light to damage the macula, which in turn, increases the risk of AMD. This is how and why taking lutein and zeaxanthin supplements has been shown to prevent AMD.
According to the researchers, with age, the blood vessels become less effective at delivering nutrients (like lutein and zeaxanthin) to the retina due to deposits such as amyloid beta, and the resulting inflammation. The fact that the outer retina has the highest metabolic demand of any tissue in the body also compounds this problem of decreased nutrient delivery (since nutrients essential for bioenergetic cellular metabolism--like CoQ10, B vitamins, etc.--can't be delivered efficiently).
In this study on mice, vitamin D3 was associated with a significant reduction in retinal inflammation, levels of amyloid beta, and number of macrophages in the retina (a mark of chronic inflammation, and something that was investigated in the vitamin D3 for Alzheimer's study).
Just another reason to ensure adequate vitamin D3 intake.
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Source: Vitamin D rejuvenates aging eyes by reducing inflammation, clearing amyloid beta and improving visual function
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