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Dementia Associated With Vitamin D Deficiency

Those who want to ward of memory loss in their old age may want to spend some more time out in the sun.

A new study has found that elderly adults with a deficiency of vitamin D will experience a more rapid cognitive decline than those with normal levels, and researchers recommend several effective ways to treat it.

Research teams from the University of California and Rutgers analyzed 158 white, 113 African American, and 96 Hispanic participants with an average age of 76, according to Reuters.

The researchers monitored the level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the participants’ blood and found that more than 60 percent of them were vitamin D deficient.

The researchers kept tabs on the participants of the study, recording shifts in their cognitive ability over a period of around five years.  They found that those who were vitamin D deficient were statistically more likely to have trouble reasoning and remembering personal experiences.

The study also found that those of Hispanic ethnicity were twice as prone to vitamin D deficiency than whites, while African Americans were more than three times as likely to suffer a lack of vitamin D.

According to Joshua Miller of Rutgers, the findings of the study suggest “there is enough evidence to recommend that people in their 60s and older discuss taking a daily vitamin D supplement with their physicians.”

Miller says that even if vitamin D supplements do not prove to alleviate any memory problems, it can’t hurt to try as there are no real health risks to taking it, except in overly high doses.  The recommended daily dosage of vitamin D is 600 IU/day.  Consumption of 4,000 IU/day is not recommended due to potential health risks, and excessive amounts of vitamin D, 10,000 IU/day or greater, can cause kidney damage.

The upper tolerable level of daily intake (UL) for vitamin D established by the Institute for Medicine is 4000 IU/day (…) Above this level, the risk of adverse health effects increases, with very high doses (10,000 IU/day or more) potentially causing damage to kidneys and other tissues.

Exposure to sunlight is yet another method of treating vitamin D deficiency.  Part of the reason why African Americans and Hispanics experience more vitamin D deficiency than whites is because those with darker skin absorb less sunlight.

Vitamin D deficiency can also be fought off by increasing consumption of milk, cheese, and other vitamin D-rich dairy products.

More information about the study can be found at JAMA Network’s journal JAMA Neurology.

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