Researchers agree that there’s a connection between vitamin D and the workings of your brain – they’ve even found receptors for the nutrient in many parts of the brain. Now there’s word on vitamin D and Alzheimer’s risk via a study in the journal Neurology, the largest yet, that finds an association between low levels of vitamin D and dementia. Older people who have too little of the sunshine vitamin in their bloodstream may also have two times the risk of developing devastating Alzheimer’s disease as older people who have enough of the vitamin in their body. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia and affects almost 5 million Americans.
Beyond what it does in the brain, vitamin D is needed to maintain healthy bones, to moderate cell growth, and help with immune function and inflammation. You can get this most essential nutrient from a very few food (fatty fish like salmon, turn or mackerel, milk, eggs, cheese) sources, through your skin during sunscreen free exposure to sunlight, or by taking supplements.
The latest research involved over 1,600 healthy adults over the age of 65 who were taking part in the U.S. Cardiovascular Health Study during 1992-1993 and 1999. Samples of their blood were collected at the beginning of the study, and their mental status was assessed about six years later. During the study, 102 cases of Alzheimer’s were diagnosed in the subject pool. The team saw that those who had low levels of vitamin D were about 1.7 times more likely to have Alzheimer’s, and those with severely low (50 nanomoles per liter) levels were 2.2 times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease. These findings are similar to those from other, smaller projects.
How does vitamin D help? Experts think that the vitamin may clear plaques in the brain that are associated with dementia. This has already been shown in the laboratory.
Still these findings are not enough to have your doctor telling you to take vitamin D supplements in order to protect you from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Clinical trials are the next step in the process. Changes in diet, or simply getting out in the sun, may be enough, but no one can be sure. Increasing vitamin D levels may only be part of the Alzheimer’s prevention picture.
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News On Low Vitamin D Levels And Alzheimer’s Risk Continued…
In the meantime, it’s important for all of us to try to stick to a brain healthy (the same as a heart healthy) diet that includes lots of good tasting, good-for-you foods, including those low in saturated fats and cholesterol. Also, being regularly active and doing all you can to keep your blood pressure under control are important strategies in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
Today experts know that you’re more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease if…
- you’re over 65,
- you have a family history (parent or sibling) with the disease,
- you carry genes that are involved with developing Alzheimer’s,
- you’ve had a serious head injury, or repeat injuries,
- you’re black or Hispanic,
- you have other health problems (high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol), or
- you’ve ever had a stroke.
All these up the chances of Alzheimer’s disease; but by no means guarantee you will be affected. What science doesn’t know is what causes some people to develop the plaques and tangles of this disease while others remain unaffected. The condition is likely brought on by many different factors that work together, not any one cause.
To your good health,