A recent research paper shows that older adults who have low Vitamin D levels may experience cognitive decline at a much faster rate than people who have adequate vitamin D, a new study suggests.
We obtain vitamin D—known for its importance for bone health—primarily through sun exposure and some foods. It also has a major impact on how the body, including the brain, functions.
The study assessed 382 people with normal cognition, mild cognitive loss, or dementia once a year for an average of five years.
Unlike previous studies of vitamin D and dementia, the participants were racially and ethnically diverse and included whites, African Americans, and Hispanics. Most (61 percent) had low vitamin D levels in their blood, including 54 percent of the whites and 70 percent of the African-Americans and Hispanics. Participants ranged in age from their 60s to their 90s, with the largest group in their 70s.
“There were some people in the study who had low vitamin D who didn’t decline at all and some people with adequate vitamin D who declined quickly,” says Joshua Miller, professor of nutritional science at Rutgers. “But on average, people with low vitamin D declined two to three times as fast as those with adequate vitamin D.”
Vitamin D is an important nutrient when it comes to disease prevention. Insufficient Vitamin D is associated with a whole host of diseases apart from cognitive decline, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and periodontal disease.
In fact, Vitamin D decreases the body’s inflammatory response to pathogens, illness, or trauma, both locally and systemically.
Periodontal disease (which is caused by pathogens) is associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease (among many other inflammatory diseases), and Vitamin D deficiency amplifies its impact on organ systems throughout the body.
With more than 80% of the adult US population having some form of periodontal disease and over half the world being Vitamin D deficient, it appears that the two conditions might be contributing significantly to cognitive decline in the US, where Alzheimer’s disease is expected to rise 40% by 2025.
It is becoming well established that addressing wellness, including nutrition and lowering the oral microbial load, results in substantial improvement in the key inflammatory markers of inflammatory cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.