WASHINGTON—A new study suggests vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantial increase in the risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. (Neurology. 2014 Aug. online. doi. 10.1212/WNL.0000000000000755)
The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) affirmed the study results, saying vitamin D is a nutrient of public health concern in the government’s dietary guidelines for Americans because it’s one of the nutrients people fall short on.
Andrea Wong, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN, said vitamin D supplements are a safe and appropriate way to achieve healthy levels, especially because it is not easily obtained through food alone, and relying on sunlight as another source for it presents other concerns.
The study had 1,658 elderly ambulatory adults free from dementia, cardiovascular disease and stroke who participated in a population-based cardiovascular health study between 1992 to1993 and 1999. Incident all-cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease statuses were assessed during follow-ups using National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke/Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association criteria.
During a mean follow up of 5.6 years, 171 participants developed dementia, including 102 cases of Alzheimer’s disease. The participants who had a deficiency or severe deficiency were far more likely to have developed the conditions than participants with healthy levels of vitamin D.
“Optimal nutrition is just one of the many healthy habits that people need in order to help prevent disease, and vitamin D is a key element to attaining optimal nutrition," Wong wrote. “It is exciting that this study’s findings supported the hypothesis that vitamin D ‘may be neuroprotective;’ however, it is important to continue investigating this association, and manage expectations for vitamin D’s isolated role in preventing complicated diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease."
CRN affirmed another study suggesting that vitamin D does not harm post-menopausal women.