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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
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.

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