Vitamin D and Alzheimer's linked, but a simple blood test may help
Two new studies show just how important vitamin D is for keeping women’s brains sharp with aging. According to the research conducted at the Angers University Hospital in France, women have a lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease with higher levels of vitamin D, but a simple blood test may help with treatment.
The findings support the role of vitamin D for overall health. Past studies link disability from mobility problems among men and women who fail to get enough vitamin D from sun, food or supplements.
Statistics suggest most Americans don’t get enough of the so called sunshine vitamin, especially during winter months. Risk of skin cancer from sun exposure is also implicated as a culprit for widespread vitamin D insufficiency.
One study, led by Yelena Slinin, MD, MS, at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis found a higher risk of memory loss or cognitive decline when women don’t get enough vitamin D as they get older - less than 20 nanograms per milliliter.
Another study, led by Cedric Annweiler, MD, PhD, at the Angers University Hospital in France, found women whose vitamin D intake was 50.3 micrograms per week on average were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
There is also evidence that vitamin D can clear plaques from the brain for patients with existing Alzheimer's disease.
Evidence mounts for vitamin D and health
Adequate levels of vitamin D are also found in observational studies to protect overall health as we age.
A simple blood test from your physician can diagnose vitamin D insufficiency that is treatable by boosting intake of fortified cereals, yogurts, non-fat dairy products, salmon, tuna, sole, flounder, eggs and mushrooms. Your doctor might recommend vitamin D supplements and repeat blood testing.
The findings published in the “Journals of Gerontology” show the importance of focusing on foods that contain vitamin D and can lead to healthy aging. There are no symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, making it important to get some sun exposure and pay attention to eating a variety of foods that can keep levels within normal limits.
Specifically, higher levels of vitamin D can help keep a woman’s brain sharp with aging and might help lower the chances of Alzheimer’s disease, shown in the two studies. Past studies show getting enough vitamin D might thwart cancer, diabetes, hep with pain relief for people taking narcotics, help fight obesity, curb asthma incidence among children and help fight depression.
The Gerontological Society of America
November 30, 2012
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