Most older adults are aware of the benefits of vitamin D on bone health but newer research is making a strong case for the role vitamin D may play in preventing or slowing cognitive decline including dementia.
A 2014 study published in the journal Neurology found a correlation between patients with very low blood levels of vitamin D and a significantly increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. It is common for older adults develop a vitamin D deficiency because the skin is less able to synthesize vitamin D from sun exposure with age.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended daily dose of vitamin D is 600 IU (international units) and 800 IU for adults over the age of 70. Not only can vitamin D possibly help prevent dementia, it also reduces the risk of osteoporosis by increasing calcium absorption and may help reduce chronic inflammation.
Fatty fish and fish liver oils contain vitamin D and it is also added to fortify foods including milk, orange juice and cereals. Supplements are also widely available but always talk with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medication or supplement to avoid dangerous drug interactions.
The findings of studies tying vitamin D with dementia are not conclusive and more large scale trials are needed to definitively link very low vitamin D levels with cognitive decline. But with the number of dementia cases worldwide expected to triple by 2050, the possibilities for preventative treatment are encouraging.
To read more about vitamin D and it’s neuro-protective properties, visit the Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease by following this link.