Study: Vitamin D could help keep dementia at bay

March 1 (UPI) -- Researchers from Canada and Britain said they found a connection between taking vitamin D supplements and living longer without the ravages of dementia in a large-scale study of more than 12,000 participants.

The findings, which were published Wednesday in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, discovered 40% fewer dementia diagnoses among those in a group of 4,637 who took the vitamins than in the remaining group who did not.


The researchers from the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute and Britain's University of Exeter, said the mean age of the participants was 71 and did not have dementia when they signed up.

"We know that vitamin D has some effects in the brain that could have implications for reducing dementia, however so far, research has yielded conflicting results," Research leader Zahinoor Ismail, of the University of Calgary and the University of Exeter, said in a statement.

"Our findings give key insights into groups who might be specifically targeted for vitamin D supplementation. Overall, we found evidence to suggest that earlier supplementation might be particularly beneficial, before the onset of cognitive decline."

According to the research, 2,696 participants progressed to dementia over 10 years. In that group, 2,017 (75%) had no exposure to vitamin D throughout all visits prior to dementia diagnosis, and 679 (25%) had baseline exposure.


"Preventing dementia or even delaying its onset is vitally important given the growing numbers of people affected," co-author Byron Creese of the University of Exeter, said in a statement.

"The link with vitamin D in this study suggests that taking vitamin D supplements may be beneficial in preventing or delaying dementia, but we now need clinical trials to confirm whether this is really the case."

The research comes on the heels of a pair of studies in November that suggested that social isolation substantially increased risk factors for dementia in older adults. The studies said using technology to encourage older adults to text and email to stay in touch helped them.

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