Researchers in the United States have looked at the impact of Vitamin D levels on memory and thinking difficulties. The new research was published on 14 September 2015 in the Journal JAMA Neurology.
The US team from Rutgers University followed 382 people from different ethnic backgrounds (Caucasian, African American and Hispanic), with an average age of 76. Approximately half of people taking part were healthy, but others had mild cognitive impairment or dementia. The researchers investigated blood levels of vitamin D – a vitamin our bodies produce when exposed to sunlight – in the study volunteers, and on average, all study volunteers had vitamin D deficiency, though some to greater extents than others. They also found that vitamin D levels were slightly lower in people with dementia compared to those with mild cognitive impairment and healthy people. When looking into possible reasons for differences in vitamin D levels, the team found that they were not due to nutrition or ethnicity. When vitamin D levels and memory and thinking skills were tested one year on, those with lower vitamin D levels had declined at a faster rate than those with adequate levels of the vitamin.
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Vitamin D plays an important role in keeping our bodies healthy and there are a number of studies that suggest a link between vitamin D deficiency and memory and thinking difficulties. While this new research suggests an association between low vitamin D levels and faster rates of memory loss, we don’t yet know whether taking supplements could stave off dementia or slow down decline in those who are already living with the condition. We need to see more research into this approach to understand the role vitamin D plays in dementia risk. A balanced diet is important for brain health and, alongside physical activity and keeping weight and blood pressure in check, can help reduce dementia risk.”