Dementia refers to impaired cognitive functioning that results in a loss of the ability to remember, think and solve problems. If it has advanced to the point where it affects daily activities, it can be called dementia. It is a broad term that refers to a variety of diseases. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it is the most common form of dementia, and 6 million Americans are affected. New genetic research from the University of South Australia shows a direct connection between dementia and low vitamin D.
Even though dementia is considered an abnormal sign of aging and affects mostly older adults over 65, it’s not common. According to the CDC, nearly 14,000,000 Americans will be affected by dementia by 2060.
As we age, dementia is one of the leading causes of dependency and disability in older people. It can alter thinking and behavior. What if you could reverse this degenerative illness?
The study investigated the relationship between vitamins, neuroimaging features, stroke, and dementia risk.
Low levels of vitamin A were associated with lower brain volumes, which in turn led to an increased risk of stroke and dementia.
Genetic tests supported the causal relationship between vitamin D deficiency (deficit) and dementia.
It is possible to prevent as high as 17 percent of dementia cases in certain populations by increasing the vitamin D level (50nmol/L).
Dementia can be a progressive, chronic disorder that leads to cognitive dysfunction. Nearly 487.500 Australians have dementia, making it the second leading cause of demise. Globally, over 55 million people are affected by dementia. Every year, 10,000,000 new cases are discovered.
The National Health and Medical Research Council supported this genetic study. They analyzed data of 294,514 participants from UK Biobank. The results showed that low levels of vitamin A (25 nmol/L), could have an impact on the risk of stroke and dementia. Nonlinear Mendelian randomization (MR) – a method to use a measured variation of genes to examine the causal impact of a modifiable treatment on disease — was used to assess for underlying causality in neuroimaging outcomes.
Professor Elina Hypponen, the senior researcher at UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health and Director, said the findings were important for the prevention or treatment of dementia.
Prof Hypponen said that Vitamin D is an important hormone precursor. It is now more well-known for its many effects, including brain health.
“Our study is one of the first to evaluate the effects of very low levels of Vitamin D on the risk for stroke and dementia. We used robust genetic analyses in large populations.
“Our findings can have important implications for dementia in some settings, where vitamin D is not very common.” Indeed, our findings in the UK showed that up to 17% of dementia cases could have been avoided if vitamin levels were increased to a normal level.
Given the high rate of dementia across the globe, the findings are quite significant.
Prof Hypponen said that dementia is a progressive and debilitating illness that can destroy families and individuals alike.
“If it’s possible to make this a reality, by making sure that we all have sufficient vitamin D, it would also have benefits for the rest of us and potentially change the lives and health of thousands.”
“Most of us will be fine. But, for anyone who does not receive sufficient vitamin D from the sunlight, adjustments to diet may be necessary. Supplementation may be necessary.”