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Association between vitamin D and dementia risk has been confirmed

Harold Mandel's picture
Vitamin supplements

It is not a myth that good nutrition with adequate amounts of vitamins is essential for good brain health. New research has confirmed an association between vitamin D deficiency and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Vitamin D deficiency is linked with a substantially increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Researchers have investigated whether low concentrations of Vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of incident all-cause dementia and Alzheimer's disease reported the journal Neurology. The researchers studied one thousand six hundred fifty-eight elderly ambulatory adults who were free from dementia, cardiovascular disease, and stroke when they first participated in the US population–based Cardiovascular Health Study between 1992–1993 and 1999. The results from this study confirmed that Vitamin D deficiency is linked with a substantially increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease.

Severe Vitamin D deficiency is associated with greater than twice the likelihood of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

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According to the most robust study of its kind which has ever been conducted Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a significant increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in older people reports the University of Exeter. An international research team which was led by Dr David Llewellyn at the University of Exeter Medical School observed that study participants who were severely Vitamin D deficient were greater than twice as likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers found that adults in the study who were moderately deficient in vitamin D had a 53 per cent increased risk of developing dementia due to any cause. This risk increased to 125 per cent in those participants who were severely deficient. There were similar results seen for Alzheimer’s disease. The moderately deficient group was 69 per cent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. This jumped to a 122 per cent increased risk for those severely deficient in Vitamin D.

The association between low Vitamin D and dementia risk was twice as strong as was anticipated

Dr Llewellyn has said the researchers expected to find a link between low Vitamin D levels and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. However, the results were surprising. The researchers observed the association was twice as strong as was anticipated. Dr Llewellyn says clinical trials are now necessary to determine whether eating foods such as oily fish or taking Vitamin D supplements can delay or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Confirmatory evidence of a link between Vitamin D and dementia is significant. This can have great public health implications in view of the staggering number of cases of dementia. It has been estimated there are 44 million people suffering from dementia worldwide . This number is presently anticipated to triple by 2050 due to the rapid ageing of the population.

It is thought that a billion people across the world have low Vitamin D levels and many older adults may therefore experience poorer health. As research continues dealing with this matter more aggressive public health education initiatives aimed at clarifying the association between nutrition and brain health are warranted.