Low Vitamin D Levels Hasten Cognitive Decline

Seballos, MD. Preventive Medicine

Older adults with Vitamin D shortfalls may experience more rapid declines in cognitive function, according to a study published online September 14, 2015, in JAMA Neurology. Researchers measured blood levels of vitamin D in 382 people, average age about 75. About half of the study participants were cognitively normal and half had dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). More than a quarter of the participants were vitamin D deficient (defined as levels less than 12ng/ml), and about 35 percent had insufficient vitamin D levels (12ng/ml to less than 20ng/ml). The average vitamin D levels were lower in the participants with Dementia compared to those with MCI or normal cognition, according to the study. And, during an average follow up period of nearly five years, people with vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency experienced faster declines in memory, problem solving skills, and thinking compared to those with adequate vitamin D levels, the researcher reported.

THE TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency may accelerate cognitive decline. Get at least 600 to 800 international units of vitamin D a day from dietary sources such as salmon, tuna, and fortified milk, juice and cereals, or from 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure three times a week without sunscreen. Have your vitamin D level checked, and discuss vitamin D supplements with your doctor.