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Seven Year Study Suggests Vitamin D May Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer's

Incidences of Alzheimer's are reaching record numbers as the world population ages, However, new research suggests that there are dietary steps you can take to potentially ward off this increasingly common form of age-related dementia.

Researchers from Angers University Hospital published a report online ahead of print on April 13, 2012, in The Journal of Gerontology: Medical Science suggesting that higher dietary intake of vitamin D may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s as you age.

The study included 498 women with an average age of 79.8. None of the women took vitamin D supplements and the researchers assessed dietary intake of vitamin D through food frequency questionnaires.

After seven years of follow-up, the researchers determined that the women with the lowest weekly consumption of vitamin D (50 micrograms or less) were 77% more likely to develop Alzheimer's than the women with the highest intake of vitamin D (50 micrograms or more).

The researchers believe that this effect could be a result of vitamin D influencing and clearing beta-amyloid proteins. Beta-amyloid proteins are amino acid peptides that have been previously associated with Alzheimer's disease.

They also posited that the anti-Alzheimer's effects could be a result of the other nutrients found in vitamin D rich foods, especially the omega-3 essential fatty acids in fish. They note that research is conflicting on omega-3 fatty acids and dementia, but that much of the evidence suggests preventative effects exist.

Vitamin D, sometimes referred to as “the sunshine vitamin,” has been associated with a wide range of health benefits, including improved kidney health, reductions in skin cancer, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, improved cardiovascular health, combating diabetes, and improving age related eye degeneration.

Dietary 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 vitamin D as we age. This can be a particular problem for people living in the northern hemisphere, where sunlight is scarce for much of the year. 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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