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Low Vitamin D Levels Increase Risk of Cognitive Decline

Two studies have discovered that low vitamin D levels are associated with increased risk of cognitive decline. In one study, 28% of the women with low vitamin D levels showed higher risk of cognitive decline. 58% of the women in the second study with low vitamin D levels showed higher risk.

Participants in the first study included 498 women aged 75 or older who lived on their own and were part of a seven year osteoporosis study.

The researchers found that the women who developed Alzheimer’s disease had the lowest consumption of vitamin D (average 50.3 micrograms per week). The women with next lowest intake of vitamin D (average 63.6 micrograms per week) were at a higher risk for developing other types of dementia.

The second study examined 6,257 mature women who lived on their own. At the onset of the study, the researchers checked vitamin D levels and assessed the participants for cognitive decline. They then followed them for four years.

They found that having less than 10 nanograms per milliliter of vitamin D at the beginning of the study was associated with a 58% higher risk of overall cognitive impairment. Having between 10 and 20 nanograms per milliliter was associated with a 31% higher risk.

The first study was conducted by researchers at the Angers University Hospital in France and was published online ahead of print on April 13, 2012, in The Journals of Gerontology Series A. The second study was published online ahead of print on March 27, 2012 in the same journal and was conducted by researchers at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis.

Previous studies have shown vitamin D to be associated with improved kidney health, reductions in skin cancer, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, improved cardiovascular health, combating diabetes, and improving age related eye degeneration.

Vitamin D can be found in milk, fortified cereals, fish, and eggs. Your body also processes vitamin D from the sun but it becomes harder for our bodies to process it as we age. A high quality vitamin D supplement is always a good option if you feel that you’re not getting enough through diet and sun.

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