Vitamin D and Alzheimer’s link confirmed

February 2, 2009


Cambridge University and the University of Michigan, have for the first time identified a relationship between Vitamin D and cognitive impairment in a large-scale study of older people. In northern climates there can be a lack of vitamin D, particularly in the winter months, when we suffer from grey skies and not enough sunshine.

Vitamin D is vital to our immune system and to keep our bones strong in the process of breaking down old bone and building up new bone. This process goes on throughout out lives, but it can slow down without the right levels of vitamin and mineral support. We obtain our supply from sunlight, foods fortified with vitamin D like cow’s milk, soya milk and cereals and oily fish. Unfortunately, as we get older we are less able to absorb vitamin D from sunlight so need to increase our intake from other sources or take supplements.

This new study is important because it reinforces the connection between vitamin D, cognitive function and dementia as in Alzheimer’s. The researchers assessed cognitive function in 2000 adults aged 65 and over in England, and what they found was that as levels of Vitamin D went down, their levels of cognitive impairment went up. In fact they had double the chance of being cognitively impaired than those in the study who had good levels of vitamin D.

As prevention is infinitely better than cure – which, sadly, in the case of Alzheimer’s is still being sought – it makes sense to do all you can to weigh the odds in your favour. Keep mentally alert with quizzes, crosswords or bridge. Take up a new hobby that stretches your brain (line or sequence dancing works well for this) and think about learning a new language or skill. Book a holiday in the sun in the winter and sensibly enjoy exposure to sunlight as often as you can. Supplements are easy to obtain, but there are cautions with them so don’t exceed the dose recommended by your doctor or a qualified nutritionist.


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