Vitamin D is a vitamin that many people take for granted. Last month, David Llewellyn, Ph.D., and a team of researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School published their findings that confirmed Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Participants in the study were 65 years of age or older, and it focused on those who had a lack of Vitamin D in their diet as well as those who had severe Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is not normally present in normal foods; in fact there is a very limited number of Vitamin D sources. Sources of Vitamin D include sunlight, oily fish and typical supplements that one can find at a local drugstore.
The study itself focused solely on elderly patients because dementia and Alzheimer’s are typically only present in people who are older than 65. Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in the older population because many elderly people do not have proper diets, and many of them do not get the sunlight they desperately need.
Llewellyn and his team were dumbfounded by the results of their tests.
“We expected to find an association between low Vitamin D levels and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but the results were surprising — we actually found that the association was twice as strong as we anticipated,” Llewellyn said.
In fact, the team of researchers discovered that adults with a Vitamin D deficiency were 53 percent more likely to develop dementia, whereas adults with a severe Vitamin D deficiency were 125 percent more likely to develop the condition. The results were just as startling for Alzheimer’s as they were with dementia. Elderly patients who had a Vitamin D deficiency were 69 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, and patients with a severe deficiency were 122 percent more likely to develop the disease.
As a whole, these new findings helped confirm the age-old myth that a Vitamin D deficiency has a severely harmful effect on mental and cognitive processes by showing the consequences of malnutrition and an unbalanced diet.
By Connor Lynch
Science & Technology Correspondent