Health

Can Vitamin D Prevent Alzheimer's Disease?

Severe deficiencies increase the odds of developing dementia.

By Linda MarsaNov 26, 2014 12:00 AM
VitaminD.jpg
Image Point FR/Shutterstock

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

In August, researchers announced they had found a strong connection between low vitamin D levels and dementia, a deterioration of mental faculties affecting roughly 5.2 million Americans.

In the 1990s, U.S. researchers took blood samples from 1,658 participants age 65 or older as part of a cardiovascular study. About six years later, they followed up to see who had developed health complications, including symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, its most common form. Later, other U.S. scientists studying nutrition tested the original samples’ vitamin D levels.

In the new study, a group of British researchers built upon both of those findings to determine whether there was an actual link between vitamin D levels and dementia. Their statistical analysis of the U.S. data connected insufficient vitamin D levels to a 53 percent increased risk of dementia and a 69 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s. The study, the largest of its kind, found that severe vitamin D deficiencies more than doubled the odds of developing Alzheimer’s, a more substantial risk than previous studies had found.

These shortages might be because older skin converts sunlight into vitamin D less efficiently than younger skin. But experts aren’t yet ready to recommend that older people load up on the sunshine vitamin: Researchers still need to determine whether higher vitamin D levels actually prevent the disease.

Read more:

Are We Close to Curing Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer's Plagued Her Family. But a Rare Genetic Mutation Spared This Woman's Mind

HGH Treatment Tragedy Suggests Alzheimer's Might be Transmissible

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Magazine Examples
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!

Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.