Vitamin D Deficiency Associated with Dementia
A new study has been published in the Archives of Internal Medicine looking at vitamin D levels and brain function. The study was led by David Llewellyn, Ph.D. of the University of Exeter in England. His group evaluated elderly patients' brain function 3 times over a six-year period.
The researchers tested overall cognition which includes thinking, learning, and memory. They also tested attention and executive function. Executive function is the ability to plan, organize and prioritize.
The results of the study showed that those patients who were deficient in vitamin D were 60% more likely to have a significant decline in overall cognition and 31% more likely to have declines in executive function, than those who had sufficient vitamin D levels. A significant aspect of this study is that none of the elderly patients had any signs of dementia at the beginning of the study.
In an e-mail to WebMD Dr Llewellyn said that "This raises the possibility that vitamin D supplements may have therapeutic potential for the prevention of dementia and clinical trials are now urgently needed. We do not yet know the optimal intake of vitamin D to protect the brain as we need the results of clinical trials to confirm this."
This study is of major importance. I don't know how you and your families are but my patients and friends are more afraid of getting Alzheimer's disease than almost any other condition including cancer. This study was the first of its type to look retrospectively over a significant number of years to watch cognitive decline occur in those who are vitamin D deficient.
As my conventional colleagues always advise, of course prospective double-blind studies must be conducted. But these take years, and there is no reason for you not to now take vitamin D and optimize the levels of you and your family.
You can check your blood level with your doctor or my at-home blood test kit and replace your vitamin D with inexpensive pills. From my previous post, be careful what brand of vitamin D you take so you know you are getting the amount of vitamin D that is on the label.