A new study now suggests that half of the elderly Americans who are over 65 and have deficiency in vitamin D face much higher risk of suffering from cognitive decline and developing more severe conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
A team of researchers from the University of California and Rutgers University, looked at the data of about 400 people, whose average age was 76. Some of them were in good mental health, while others had either mild cognitive impairment or dementia.
Initially, the experts assessed the levels of Vitamin D in their bodies. After about five years, it was revealed that people who had deficiency in Vitamin D saw their cognitive functions decline at a two to three times faster pace compared to the people whose serum Vitamin D was at a normal level, regardless of their initial mental state.
The researchers were not at all surprised to see a decline in mental functions, but they were shocked to see how fast this happened for the people who were deficient on Vitamin D, according to Charles DeCarli, who is of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at University of California Davis.
Joshua Miller, one of the authors of the study from Rutgers University said that lower levels of Vitamin D were linked to faster declines in both the ability to remember certain moments (episodic memory) and the brain’s capacity to make decisions and to organize thoughts (executive function).
“This work, and that of others, suggests that there is enough evidence to recommend that people in their 60s and older discuss taking a daily vitamin D supplement with their physicians. Even if doing so proves to not be effective, there’s still very low health risk to doing it,” Miller said.
The study is very useful for health experts, because Vitamin D deficiency can be treated and these mental health problems can be prevented.
Apart from medication that contains Vitamin D, such as various types of supplements, people can find other natural sources as well. These include sunlight, certain type of fish, eggs, dairy products, orange juice, cereal, beef liver and certain mushrooms.
The results of the study were published in the online edition of the journal JAMA Neurology.
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