Vitamin D is a calciferol that is naturally available in a variety of foods, supplements and can also be produced through sunlight exposure. Most importantly, vitamin D helps the body better absorb calcium and facilitates other functions that promote normal bone mineralization. Without this incredible vitamin, brittle bones are more likely and other health complications can arise.
It has other applications, such as reducing inflammation and helping with healthy cell growth and immune functions.
A new study from the University of South Australia shows that low levels of vitamin D were associated with lower brain volumes and an increased risk for developing dementia.
Dementia can lead to loss of normal cognitive function, making it more difficult for people to remember, solve problems and interact with others. It is a degenerative disease without a cure. Sadly, dementia is one of the leading causes of disability and dependency – and it’s only growing. By 2060, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, some 14 million Americans will be inflicted by dementia.
At the crux of this study is the possible causal link between vitamin D deficiency and dementia. It was estimated that up to 17 percent of dementia cases could have been prevented if the individuals had normal levels of vitamin D intake throughout their life. The genetic study included data from nearly 300,000 participants. Researchers used a nonlinear Mendelian randomization method to gauge the link between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk for developing dementia and stroke.
As a hormone precursor, vitamin D is quickly becoming known for its widespread effects, including on brain health. The consequences of vitamin D deficiency aren’t entirely clear on all aspects of health, but we’re getting closer.
This is the first study to really look at the effects of low vitamin D levels on the brain, particularly as it relates to dementia and stroke. While vitamin D deficiency can be common, scientists believe that the findings can have important implications on a better understanding dementia risk.
The study was published this year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
While research continues to bring to light the causes of dementia symptoms, it is important we all become Dementia Aware. I encourage you to check out my book to learn more.