According to research, vitamin D deficiency is linked to a significantly increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in elderly individuals.
Prior studies have confirmed that individuals with low vitamin D levels are more inclined to go on to encounter cognitive problems, but this research shows that this results in a significant increase in the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The team of researchers discovered that severely Vitamin D deficient individuals had more than double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The researchers discovered that moderately vitamin D deficient study participants had a 53% increased risk of developing dementia of any kind, and the risk increased to 125% in severely deficient individuals.
The moderately deficient vitamin D group had a 69% increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, with a 122 % increased risk for individuals severely vitamin D deficient.
The researchers studied 1,658 individuals aged 65 and older, who had been capable of walking unaided and were dementia, stroke and cardiovascular disease free at the beginning of the study. They were then observed for 6 years to determine who proceeded to develop Alzheimer’s disease as well as other types of dementia.
Dementia is one our biggest issues, with 44 million worldwide cases, an amount expected to increase threefold by 2050 as a result of the aging population. A billion people around the world are believed to have low vitamin D levels and many elderly individuals can have poorer health because of this.
Vitamin D is derived from 3 main sources – sunlight exposure, supplements and foods like oily fish. The skin of older individuals can be more inefficient at converting sunlight into Vitamin D, which makes them more prone to deficiency and reliant on other sources. In a lot of countries UVB radiation levels in winter aren’t high enough to allow production of vitamin D.
Evidence was also found that there’s a threshold level of Vitamin D in the blood below which the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia increases. The researchers had earlier hypothesized that this may be in the region of 25-50 nmol/L, and the new results confirm that vitamin D levels above 50 nmol/L have the strongest association with good brain health.