Adults who were moderately deficient or severely deficient in vitamin D had a 53% and 125% increased risk of developing dementia, respectively, in the largest study examining the link between low vitamin D levels and dementia published this month in Neurology.
Similar results were found for the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease, with the moderately deficient group 68% more likely to develop dementia and increasing to 122% for those who were severely deficient.
The study, part-funded by the Alzheimer’s Association, examined over 1,600 adults aged 65 and over who were free from dementia, cardiovascular disease, and stroke—and were physically able to walk unaided. They were then followed for 6 years to determine who went on to develop dementia.
Vitamin D levels above 50 nmol/L were most strongly associated with good brain health.
Researchers were expecting to find an association between low vitamin D levels and the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, they were surprised when they found it was twice as strong as they anticipated. While their findings are insightful, they are cautious to claim that low vitamin D levels cause dementia.
Currently, there are 44 million of dementia worldwide—a number expected to triple by 2050. Large scale clinical trials are required to determine if increasing vitamin D in patients with deficiencies can help prevent dementia from developing.
Source: Neurology. Download Full Text (PDF)
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