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Vitamin D and Alzheimer's linked, but a simple blood test may help

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Vitamin D importance for thwarting Alzheimer's in women highlighted in 2 studies

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.

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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

Ten Health Risks from Low Vitamin D Levels

Image credit: Morguefile



The basic story is correct. However, the story errs in the last paragraph in saying that low levels of Vitamin D help keep a woman's brain sharp. It's higher levels. How high? Kaiser Permanente says the normal range is 25 to 80 nanograms/milliliter (ng/ml). Many Vitamin D researchers feel 50 ng/ml is optimal. If you score 10 ng/ml on a 25(OH)D test, you will probably need to take 4,000 to 5,000 iu per day every day for three to four months just to raise your level to around 50 ng/ml and you should continue taking this dose unless a subsequent test shows that you need a higher or lower daily level. You don't need a prescription for Vitamin D. Costco, Walmart, Rexall and many other retailers sell 5,000 iu Vitamin D pills over the counter. They're very inexpensive. If your doctor says this issue is not important or will not test you, insist on another doctor who understands Vitamin D and will test you. God bless.
Oh wow, thanks for the correction. I am left handed and mix up antibodies and antigens too. :) I wish there would be some conclusion as to what levels are optimal. You do provide information about how much to take to get levels of vitamin D3 where they should be - per at least general consensus. Vitamin D is inexpensive. Many physicians prescribe higher prescription doses that most insurances and Medicare don't pay for. Yes, speak with your doctor about taking supplements over the counter that can be less expensive. God bless you Milton and again, thank you. .