There are currently 47.5 million people worldwide living with dementia. Join us in raising awareness as we recognize World Alzheimer’s Day and share the latest updates on Alzheimer’s risk. Today we are going to look at the most recent research on vitamin D and its potential to help the brain.
Low vitamin D levels have often been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. A research team led by Joshua Miller at Rutgers University in New Jersey and the University of California at Davis further investigated the effects of vitamin D levels on cognitive functioning in a study recently published in JAMA Neurology.
The study involved 382 people over the age of 60 who were enrolled in a long-term Alzheimer’s study between 2002 and 2010. Participants completed a series of cognitive tests and had vitamin D levels measured annually for five years. At the beginning of the study, 61% of the participants had vitamin D levels below the recommended amount. Individuals who had been diagnosed with some form of dementia also had lower levels of vitamin D compared to those individuals who did not.
Participants with lower levels of vitamin D scored lower on cognitive tests looking at memory and executive function as well as reasoning and problem-solving. These results existed even after accounting for factors such as age, education and dementia-related risk factors. Researchers also found that ethnic groups that have darker skin such as Hispanics and African-Americans had lower levels of vitamin D. Darker skin contains more of the pigment melanin which competes with the sun’s rays and thereby slows vitamin D production.
Most importantly, the researchers found that those who had lower levels of vitamin D at the start of the study showed faster rates of cognitive decline than those with higher vitamin D levels. The research teams concluded that vitamin D might have a protective effect on the brain and could even slow or prevent symptoms of cognitive decline.
Vitamin D can be acquired through a healthy diet, sunlight exposure and supplements, but it should be part of a broader approach to overall health and wellbeing, including regular exercise and stress-reducing practices. There is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but proactive positive lifestyle choices can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
At Home Care Assistance, we aim to help people with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia be as independent as possible in the comfort of their homes. Our caregivers are trained to offer assistance with transportation and errands, meal preparation, personal hygiene, medication reminders, companionship and emotional support both hourly and 24/7. Learn how in-home caregivers can help you or a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia at www.HomeCareAssistance.com/Alzheimers. Free downloads are available of our informational guides on Alzheimer’s and dementia care, home care and our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method™.