Older adults at greater risk of dementia if vitamin D levels are low

A new study is showing that older adults are at an increased risk of dementia if their vitamin D levels are low, according to an article published on Nature World Report.

The research done at Rutgers University reveals that on average, people with low vitamin D had significantly faster declines in episodic memory loss and executive function performance, as much as two to three times as fast as those with adequate vitamin D.

Joshua Miller, professor and chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University said until now, there had not been any serious research to determine if taking vitamin D could inhibit or prevent memory loss.  He recommends getting your vitamin D levels checked and, if necessary, taking a supplement to raise the level.

Lower levels of vitamin D are common in older adults, and recent research has suggested lower levels are proportional to sudden decline in cognitive abilities.  It is believed that the deficiency can lead to Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Earlier studies found a link between low vitamin D and depression, but it is unclear whether low vitamin D causes depression, or depressed people are subject to having lower vitamin D levels.

Almost 400 racially and ethnically diverse people in Northern California participated in the study, which included both men and women.  Half of the subjects were Caucasian and half were African-American or Hispanic.

Depression and dementia are not the only conditions associated with low levels of the vitamin.  An earlier study looked at 424 Danish newborns who developed schizophrenia and concluded that infants born in winter or spring are at an increased risk of getting the disease, due to their mothers having decreased levels of vitamin D.

Research suggests that half of Americans over age 65 are deficient in vitamin D, which is essential to the body for bone health.  Most people get enough of the vitamin through exposure to the sun, but it can also be absorbed through egg yolks, cheese and fish oil.

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