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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.