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Low vitamin D linked to most African American kidney disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Results of a new study show that low levels of vitamin D places more than sixty percent of African Americans at risk for kidney disease that ultimately leads to dialysis. ESRD (end stage renal disease), was analyzed in a nationwide sample of 13,000 Americans who required dialysis, and included measurements of the vitamin D metabolite 25(OH) D.

The researchers analyzed whether vitamin D plays a stronger role in the development of kidney disease in African Americans, compared to whites. According to Michal L. Melamed, MD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine "We found that 25(OH) D deficiency was responsible for about 58 percent of the excess risk for ESRD experienced by African Americans”.

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Melamed says the findings are another reason to ensure that everyone gets enough vitamin D. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to a variety of health problems including increased cancer risk, diabetes, which has now reached epidemic proportions globally, heart disease risk, which is now extremely prevalent among Americans, decreased immune function, and high blood pressure. Now low vitamin D levels are linked to kidney disease, and the link is strongest among African Americans.

Vitamin D, according to the authors, is not shown to be a cause and effect factor for kidney disease. The scientists say more studies are needed, and are planning clinical trials to further test the theory that boosting levels of vitamin D could preserve kidney function among patients diagnosed with kidney disease.

Previous studies have shown that low vitamin D levels are a risk for the development of kidney disease. African Americans and other minorities are most likely to develop end-stage renal disease, and are increasingly diagnosed at a younger age. In the current study, low vitamin D levels were found to increase the risk of kidney disease by 2.6 percent among all participants. For African Americans, the risk of end stage kidney disease that requires dialysis was found to be approximately 58 percent, and was linked to low vitamin D levels.