- There are already over 55 million individuals living with dementia throughout the world, and studies estimate that figure will rise to 78 million by the year 2030.
- The University of South Australia conducted research that led to the discovery of evidence that a lack of vitamin D is linked to an increased risk of dementia and stroke.
- Researchers are in agreement that further studies are needed to completely understand the connection between higher vitamin D intake and an increased risk of dementia.
Vitamin D has, for a very long time, been considered an essential component of a person’s overall health. Previous studies have shown that vitamin D plays a vital role in the functioning of the immune system, in addition to its critical importance for maintaining healthy bones (Referenced Source).
Inadequate levels of vitamin D have also been associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disorders such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (source) (ARDS).
Researchers from the University of South Australia think they have evidence associating a lack of vitamin D to an increased risk for dementia and stroke. This is an addition to the list that was previously provided.
Recent publication of the study can be found in the peer-reviewed journal known as The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
What exactly is this dementia?
The word “dementia” refers to a group of disorders that impact a person’s cognitive ability and share the same name. People who have dementia lose the capacity to think normally, remember normally, and communicate normally.
Around the world, there are about 55 million people living with dementia. According to the findings of recent studies, that figure is expected to reach 78 million by the year 2030.
Alzheimer’s disease is the form of dementia that affects the most people.
Trusted Source, which is responsible for sixty percent to seventy percent Trusted Source of all instances of dementia.
These are some examples of other forms of dementia:
Lewy body dementia
Parkinson’s disease dementia
The disorder known as Huntington’s
Research done in the past demonstrates that stroke victims have an increased chance of getting dementia, in addition to the vascular dementia that is induced by the stroke.
Putting vitamin D under the microscope
For the purpose of this study, researchers accessed the genetic information from around 295,000 individuals who had previously participated in the UK Biobank biomedical database. In order to determine how a low amount of vitamin D affected a person’s neuroimaging of the brain as well as their risk for dementia and stroke, researchers examined the differences in the participants’ genes.
Researchers discovered a link between having a low amount of vitamin D and having a smaller volume of brain tissue, as well as an increased risk of dementia and stroke. They also noted that the findings of their genetic study provide support for the causal influence that vitamin D deficiency has on dementia.
Researchers have had a hunch for a long time, according to Professor Elina Hypponen, senior investigator and director of the Australian Centre for Precision Health at the University of South Australia, that vitamin D may have implications for the development of neurocognitive diseases such as dementia. On the other hand, there is a dearth of evidence about whether or not these impacts are causative.
According to Professor Hypponen, who was interviewed by Medical News Today, “In fact, it has been very difficult to prove the effects of vitamin D on brain health or other diseases.” This is due, in large part, to the fact that it would be unethical to conduct clinical trials on people who are clinically vitamin D deficient.
“Therefore,” she continued, “we wanted to examine whether or not we could give causal evidence for a function of vitamin D in brain health.” More specifically, “we wanted to investigate whether or not changes in vitamin D status among patients who are vitamin D deficient will benefit.”
Previous studies, including one that was published in 2018, came to the conclusion that there was no concrete evidence that vitamin D was neuroprotective. This was the conclusion reached after conducting a systematic review and analysis of over 70 clinical and pre-clinical studies about the role of vitamin D in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Newer research, on the other hand, suggests that vitamin D may have a role to play in the prevention of dementia.
Ideas for conducting even more studies
When asked how this research can help with the prevention of dementia and stroke in the future, Hypponen responded that this research emphasises the significance of preventing and avoiding vitamin D insufficiency as a risk factor for dementia and stroke.
She went on to say that this is likely to be beneficial not only for lowering the risk of dementia but also for improving general health. “Strategies for food fortification with vitamin D should be given significant study, and in countries where this has previously been done, it has been feasible to elevate the concentrations at the population level,” says the author. “My opinion is that this should be given serious thought.”
Hypponen said that she is currently formulating her plans for the further stages of this investigation.
She elaborated, “It is important to work further to establish which of the proposed health effects of vitamin D are truly causal and whether the thresholds for serum concentrations that are supported by our work so far also apply for other health outcomes.” “It is important to work further to establish which of the proposed health effects of vitamin D are truly causal and whether the thresholds for serum concentrations that are supported by our work
Dr. Heather Snyder, who serves as the vice president of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer’s Association, is eager to learn more about the further steps that will be taken in this line of investigation as well.
“This is an interesting study exploring the link between vitamin D deficiency and dementia risk, and adds an interesting additional link suggesting there may be a genetic component that gives more information about this relationship,” she told MNT. “This study adds an interesting additional link suggesting there may be a genetic component that gives more information about this relationship.” “That being stated, further study is required, including intervention trials, in order to evaluate whether or not maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D might be beneficial in lowering the risk of dementia.”
According to Snyder, “all of this goes to show that the body and the brain are intimately intertwined, and it is critical to take care of your general health and well-being, including the amounts of vitamins you consume.” “If you are concerned about your health in any way, including your memory, make an appointment with your primary care physician.”