Vitamin D could help prevent dementia, study finds

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In a study from the University of Calgary and elsewhere, scientists found taking vitamin D supplements may help ward off dementia.

They explored the link between vitamin D supplementation and dementia in more than 12,388 participants of the US National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center.

These people had a mean age of 71 and were dementia-free when they signed up. Of the group, 37% (4,637) took vitamin D supplements.

In the study, the team found that taking vitamin D was linked to living dementia-free for longer, and they also found 40% fewer dementia diagnoses in the group who took supplements.

In the whole group, 2,696 participants progressed to dementia over ten years; amongst them, 2,017 (75%) had no exposure to vitamin D throughout all visits prior to dementia diagnosis, and 679 (25%) had baseline exposure.

These findings give important insights into groups that might be specifically targeted for vitamin D supplementation.

Overall, the team found evidence to suggest that earlier supplementation might be particularly beneficial, before the onset of cognitive decline.

While Vitamin D was effective in all groups, the team found that effects were significantly greater in females, compared to males.

Similarly, effects were greater in people with normal cognition, compared to those who reported signs of mild cognitive impairment—changes to cognition that have been linked to a higher risk of dementia.

The effects of vitamin D were also significantly greater in people who did not carry the APOEe4 gene, known to present a higher risk for Alzheimer’s dementia, compared to non-carriers.

The researchers suggest that people who carry the APOEe4 gene absorb vitamin D better from their intestines, which might reduce the vitamin D supplementation effect.

Previous research has found that low levels of vitamin D are linked to higher dementia risk.

Vitamin D is involved in the clearance of amyloid in the brain, the accumulation of which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies have also found that vitamin D may provide help to protect the brain against the build-up of tau, another protein involved in the development of dementia.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and Vitamin B supplements could help reduce dementia risk.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that high-fiber diet could help lower the dementia risk, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

The study was conducted by Professor Zahinoor Ismail et al and published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring.

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