News / Health

Study: Low Vitamin D Levels Associated With Cognitive Decline

A new study concludes that older adults who are deficient in vitamin D are more likely to experience serious declines in their ability to think and plan.  

Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with bone fractures, pain, and chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Researchers have found a link between deficiencies of the so-called "sunshine" vitamin and cognitive decline in older adults.  One of the most common causes of vitamin D deficiency is a lack of exposure to sunlight, a particular concern for less physically-active seniors who are likely to spend fewer hours outdoors.  

In tests conducted on more than 850 Italian adults ages 65 and older, scientists at Peninsula Medical School in England found that those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 60 percent more likely to suffer a cognitive decline. "About a billion people worldwide do not have high enough levels of vitamin D.  And obviously dementia itself is so common too that if there is any association between vitamin D levels and dementia it is something we should be concerned about," said Researcher David Llewellyn, a specialist in dementia, who led the study:

Llewellyn and colleagues followed the study participants for over six years, beginning in 1998, when investigators administered initial tests measuring the adults' attention span, ability to learn, to remember, and to plan and organize tasks.

While the researchers observed steep declines in most of these cognitive skills among adults with the lowest levels of vitamin D, attention span was the one exception, with test results showing no significant impact from the low vitamin levels.

Llewellyn says the discovery of a strong connection between dementia and inadequate levels of vitamin D is, in a way, good news. "Because we can treat vitamin D deficiency quite easily with supplements, which have already shown to be cheap but cost effective and safe.  And we know they reduce the risk of falls and fractures and even early death.  So, we are quite excited about it because it opens up the possibility that if we do clinical trials we may be able to reduce the incidence of new cases of dementia," he said.

Researchers think vitamin D may reduce mental decline by enhancing the formation of nerve tissue that is essential to a variety of brain functions, including enhanced cognitive ability.

Bill Thies is the chief medical and scientific officer at the Alzheimer's Association in Chicago, Illinois.  The organization promotes research into the treatment and cure of the progressive neuro-degenerative disorder, which causes profound memory loss and eventual death.  

While studies have shown that patients already suffering  from Alzheimer's do not respond  to vitamin D, Thies says it is possible dietary supplements of the micronutrient early in the disease process could prevent or slow the illness. "It may be very likely that vitamin D levels may be important as preventatives for Alzheimer's disease, but can not overcome the devastation of the disease once it is established," Thies said.

The study linking low levels of vitamin D and mental decline is published this week in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs