Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Alzheimer’s Risk

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Older adults with too little vitamin D in their blood may have twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as seniors with sufficient levels of the “sunshine vitamin,” a new study finds.

The research — based on more than 1,600 adults over age 65 — found the risk forAlzheimer’s and other forms of dementia increased with the severity of vitamin Ddeficiency

But the findings aren’t enough to recommend seniors take vitamin D supplements to prevent mental decline. “Clinical trials are now urgently needed in this area,” said study researcher David Llewellyn, a senior research fellow in clinical epidemiology at the University of Exeter Medical School in England.

Another expert agreed. “This shows you there is a link between vitamin D and the development of Alzheimer’s,” said Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association, one of several funding sources for the study. “What it doesn’t show you is that [cause-and-effect] link.”

Whether dietary changes or getting more sun exposure would help isn’t known, Fargo said. “We don’t know if increasing vitamin D levels would decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s,” he added.

Published online Aug. 6 in the journal Neurology, this is believed to be the largest study yet to find an association between low levels of vitamin D and dementia.

Vitamin D is essential for maintaining bone health. It is also thought to moderate cell growth and help control immune function and inflammation. Vitamin D can be obtained through food, through the skin after exposure to sunlight and fromsupplements.

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