Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Inadequate vitamin D may account for over 1/2 of end-stage renal disease in african americans

New research has shown a significant link between vitamin D status and the risk of advanced kidney disease. In a recent study, individuals with the lowest level of vitamin D were 2.6 times more likely to need kidney dialysis than those with the highest levels.

Kidney failure is more common in African Americans than in Caucasians. This disparity is generally attributable to a greater prevalence of hypertension and diabetes in this population.

In the December 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, researchers report a strong association between end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in African Americans and reduced vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiencies are more common in this group compared to Caucasians due to increased skin pigmentation, which results in reduced vitamin D synthesis from sun exposure.

Deficiencies in vitamin D (defined as less than 15ng/ml) were found in 34% of African Americans compared to 5% of non-Hispanic Caucasians. Researchers also discovered that individuals with the lowest vitamin D levels were 2.6 times as likely to end up on dialysis compared to those with the highest levels. The researchers determined that vitamin D was responsible for about 58% of the excess risk for renal disease experienced by African Americans.

Follow-up research is needed to confirm the results, but this study adds to previous evidence linking vitamin D deficiency to the progression of kidney disease and the resulting need for dialysis. It also explains a good portion of the increased risk of ESRD in African Americans.