Another important finding from the ICAD meeting last week revolves around the relationship between cognitive decline and vitamin D.
Several high-profile studies have suggested that high levels of vitamin D lower the risk of developing multiple sclerosis and accumulating evidence suggests previously unsuspected roles for vitamin D in brain development and neuroprotection.
Now, a new study shows that low Vitamin D levels may be related to cognitive decline and dementia. Researchers have in fact found a link between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia later in life. The researchers analyzed data from 3,325 people aged 65 and older who have lived in Tuscany, Italy over the period of six years. The participants’ vitamin D levels were measured from blood samples and compared with their performance on a measure of cognitive function that included tests of memory, orientation in time and space, and ability to maintain attention. Those who scored in the lowest 10 percent were classified as being cognitively impaired. The study found that the risk of cognitive impairment was 42 percent higher in people who were deficient in vitamin D, and 394 percent higher in those with severe vitamin D deficiency. This association remained after adjusting for potential confounders.
If future studies and randomized controlled trials confirm that vitamin D deficiency is causally related to cognitive decline, this would open up important new possibilities for treatment and prevention.
Michael Rafii, MD, PhD
Associate Medical Core Director, ADCS
This post originally appeared in Alzheimer’s Insights, an ADCS Blog.
Llewellyn DJ et al, Vitamin D and risk of cognitive decline in elderly persons. Arch Intern Med. 2010 Jul 12; 170(13):1135-41.