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Adequate Daily Intake of Vitamin D May be a Vital Part of Alzheimer’s Prevention

Posted on | December 13, 2013 | No Comments

vitamin D and Alzheimer's preventionThere has been a lot of attention on the health benefits of vitamin D recently.  Adequate levels of Vitamin D may be related to bone health, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties, as well as cardiovascular health.  Now the attention has turned to the relationship between improved cognition and vitamin D which may turn out to be a vital component  of Alzheimer’s prevention.

In a recent clinical trial published by JAMA Internal Medicine, a total of 858 elderly adults over 65 participated in a study to evaluate the effectiveness of vitamin D on cognitive function.  In participants who were severely deficient in vitamin D the results were an observation of 3 or more point decline on the e Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE).

This long term study concluded that low levels of vitamin D were associated with substantial cognitive decline, which could really shed some light on possible future interventions using vitamin D supplements as part of a plan for Alzheimer’s prevention.

Adequate levels of vitamin D have been associated with a healthy nervous system and may even prevent neurodegeneration (loss of structure or function of nerve cells) which occurs in Alzheimer’s disease.

The bad news is that it’s been estimated that as many as 40 percent or even more of the elderly population may be deficient in vitamin D in the United States and Europe.

In a recent study, published by Neurology.org, 752 women age 75 or older were divided into 2 groups either vitamin D deficient or non-deficient.  After a period of 2 years, those who were vitamin D deficient were found to have a lower level of cognitive impairment than the group that was given adequate levels of vitamin D (400 IU per day). Cognitive function was assessed via the Pfeiffer Short Portable Mental State Questionnaire (SPMSQ), which is a 10 point screening tool to assess moderate to severe cognitive deficits.  A score of 8 or below indicates cognitive impairment.

The women in the study who had lower levels of vitamin D intakes had lower SPMSQ scores.  Approximately 14% of the women in the study received inadequate intakes of vitamin D and based on the SPMSQ scores, a total of 11% had cognitive impairment.  The association between dietary vitamin D and cognitive function was significant despite other factors which were taken into consideration in the study such as chronic disease.

In order to come to a positive conclusion that vitamin D could possibly slow impairment of cognitive function in those in the early stages of AD, more studies are necessary, but for now the evidence is certainly pointing toward the fact that an adequate daily intake of vitamin D may be helpful in the early stages of Alzheimer’s prevention.


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Harvard-trained Neurologist, Richard S. Isaacson, M.D. currently serves as Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology, Vice Chair of Education, and Education Director of the McKnight Brain Institute in the Department of Neurology at the University of Miami (UM) Miller School of Medicine. He completed his residency in Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, and his medical internship at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, FL. Prior to joining UM, he served as Associate Medical Director of the Wien Center for Alzheimers disease and Memory Disorders at Mount Sinai.

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