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Cognitive Impairment Linked To Low Vitamin D Levels

Posted Mar 09 2009 3:14pm

If you've been reading this newsletter for the past year, you probably already know at least a half-dozen reasons why you should be taking vitamin D supplements. Bone health. Mood improvement. Physical performance. It's demonstrated anti-cancer effects. But if all that weren't enough, a new study adds another benefit of vitamin D to that rapidly expanding resume: cognitive performance.

In a new study to be published in the Journal of Geriatric Psychology and Neurology, researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Michigan report an association between the risk of cognitive impairment in older folks and low levels of vitamin D.

Over 1,750 men and women 65 years or older who participated in a study called The Healthy Survey for England, were given neurocognitive tests. The testing revealed that 212 of the participants had cognitive impairment. The researchers then compared the vitamin D levels of those without cognitive impairment and those with cognitive impairment and found that the risk of impairment significantly increased as vitamin D levels declined.

In fact, participants whose vitamin D levels were in the lowest 25% of the group had a whopping 2.28 times greater risk of cognitive impairment than those of the men and women whose levels were in the top 25%.

Cognitive impairment is a major risk factor for developing dementia.

"This is the first large-scale study to identify a relationship between vitamin D and cognitive impairment in later life," said study coauthor Iain A. Lang, PhD, of Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, England. "Dementia is a growing problem for health services everywhere, and people who have cognitive impairment are at higher risk of going on to develop dementia."

"For those of us who live in countries where there are dark winters without much sunlight, like the UK, getting enough Vitamin D can be a real problem - particularly for older people, who absorb less vitamin D from sunlight.," Dr Lang observed. "One way to address this might be to provide older adults with vitamin D supplements. This has been proposed in the past as a way of improving bone health in older people, but our results suggest it might also have other benefits."

I recommend at least 1000 IUs daily (preferably 2000IUs) of Vitamin D.

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