Study links vitamin D deficiency to dementia
Thursday, August 7, 2014, 6:38 PM - A study out of the University of Exeter medical school has confirmed a link between a vitamin D deficiency and the onset of dementia.
The large-scale study argues that a deficiency "substantially" increases the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease in older people.
Adults with a "moderate" deficiency had a 53 percent increased risk of developing some form of dementia while those with severe deficiencies saw that risk jump to 125 percent.
A group of 1,658 adults aged 65 and older who were free of dementia and cardiovascular disease at the start of the study were followed for six years by an international team.
Researchers say they were surprised with the findings.
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"We expected to find an association between low vitamin D levels and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but the results were surprising – we actually found that the association was twice as strong as we anticipated," said study author Dr. David Llewellyn in a press release.
"Clinical trials are now needed to establish 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. We need to be cautious at this early stage and our latest results do not demonstrate that low vitamin D levels cause dementia. That said, our findings are very encouraging, and even if a small number of people could benefit, this would have enormous public health implications given the devastating and costly nature of dementia."
Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium and we get most of it through sun exposure, although it can be found in oily fish, fortified milk and egg yolks.
Health experts say one out of three people aren't getting enough of the supplement and that can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer -- in addition to dementia.
Doctors recommend people between the ages of 1 and 70 get 600 international units of vitamin D per day.