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Studies link vitamin D to cognitive health

December 6, 2012
by Sandra Hoban, Executive Editor
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Results from two studies published recently in Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences show that vitamin D intake may lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.

A research team led by Cedric Annweiler, MD, PhD, at Angers University Hospital in France, conducted a seven-year follow-up of 498 community-dwelling women from a previous study to determine if dietary intake of vitamin D could be an independent predictor of the onset of Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

Findings from this study showed that women who developed Alzheimer’s had a lower baseline vitamin D intake (average 50.3 micrograms/week) than those who  developed other dementias (average 63.6 micrograms/week) and those with no dementia (average 59.0 micrograms/week).

Another investigation at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis, led by Yelena Slinin, MD, MS, found that low levels of Serum 25 vitamin D in older women were associated with increased risk of cognitive impairment. The four-year study followed 6,257 community-dwelling older women who had vitamin D levels measured in a study of osteopathic fractures and had their cognitive function tested by the Mini-Mental State Examination and/or Trail Making Test, Part B. The findings associated very low levels of vitamin D (less than 10 nanograms/milliliter of blood serum) with higher odds of global cognitive impairment at the baseline. In addition, low levels of vitamin D (less than 20 nanograms/milliliter among cognitively impaired women were linked to a higher risk of incident global decline.

An Institute of Medicine 2010 (revised 2011) report, ”Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D,” noted, however, “Scientific evidence indicates that calcium and vita­min D play key roles in bone health. Studies also have shown that high intake of vitamin D, whether through diet or sunlight exposure) can lower the risk of mobility limitations.

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