News / Health

Vitamin D May Help Avert Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia

This undated image provided by Merck & Co. shows a cross section of a normal brain (right) and one of a brain damaged by advanced Alzheimer's disease.
This undated image provided by Merck & Co. shows a cross section of a normal brain (right) and one of a brain damaged by advanced Alzheimer's disease.
Jessica Berman

Simply taking a daily vitamin D supplement may be enough to ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to medical experts.

Researchers caution, however, that the results of a large, recently published study do not demonstrate that low levels of vitamin D necessarily cause dementia. Still, they are encouraged by the link between the affliction and vitamin D deficiency.

An estimated 50 percent of older individuals have low levels of the nutrient, according to the study, published in the journal Neurology.
 
If there is, in fact, a connection between depleted vitamin D levels and dementia, including Alzheimer’s, it may be possible to prevent or even treat the brain disorders with a simple supplement.

“It’s an open question whether you could reverse the impact on peoples’ memory and other aspects of their ability to think clearly. What we’re hoping is, obviously, that we can at least slow down the accumulation of disease in the brain. Or if we could stabilize things, that would be great,” said David Llewellyn, a clinical epidemiologist with Britain’s University of Exeter Medical School.

He is co-author of a study involving just over 1,600 elderly American adults over the age of 65.  

Participants in the six-year study were dementia-free when researchers measured their vitamin D levels. After a half dozen years, 171 of the adults developed dementia and 102 had clinical signs of Alzheimer’s disease.  

Investigators found that low levels of vitamin D increased the risk of dementia by 53 percent. Those with severe deficiency had a 125 percent increased risk of dementia compared to those with normal vitamin D levels.

In addition, people who were deficient in vitamin D were 70 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Those who had severe deficiency were 120 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer's, compared with people whose vitamin D levels were adequate.

“We were surprised by this because the association was about twice as strong as we predicted from our previous research.  So the risk of dementia was more than doubled in those who had the lowest levels of vitamin D,” Llewellyn said.

Other studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to stroke, autoimmune disease and the health of nerve cells.

The best sources of vitamin D are exposure to sunlight and a diet rich in oily fish, like salmon. Llewellyn says people in northern climates tend to be at higher risk of deficiency. But there’s a fair amount of vitamin D deficiency in countries where people cover up to avoid over-exposure to the sun and skin cancer.

There may be a vicious cycle among people who develop dementia. Their vitamin D levels can become even more depleted as they tend to eat poorly and become less physically active, according to Llewellyn.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wesley Dodds
August 07, 2014 1:56 PM
More breathless, irresponsible medical reporting on the terminal Alzheimer's Disease from the latest medical research snake oil salespersons looking for funding. They will tell you anything and everything to find a Sugar Daddy to get research funding. Anything and everything will cure Alzheimer's Disease: Vitamin D, fish oil, fish, coffee, no coffee, sugary hot chocolate, no sugar, Lavado cocoa extract, coconut oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, antioxidant is coenzyme Q10, coral calcium, ginkgo biloba, diabetes drugs, exercise, losing weight, not losing weight, baking soda, pumpkin seeds, sesame oil, vinegar, wheat germ, carrots, blueberries, bottled water, spinach, orange juice, soy milk, almond extract, curry, ginger, lemon oil, salt, no salt, sage, tumeric, nasal inhalers, etc., etc., etc. I put this VERY INCOMPLETE list together to give a sense of some of the endless breathless reporting on this, each one "WITH A CURE." And of course, not one of them does.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More