The Alzheimer’s Association has partly funded a research that now holds strong evidence how a deficiency in Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin as it’s fondly called, considerably increases the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s in seniors.

Researchers from University of Exeter Medical School examined elderly American people in their Cardiovascular Health Study.

“We expected to find an association between low Vitamin D levels and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but the results were surprising – we actually found that the association was twice as strong as we anticipated,” lead author Dr. David Llewellyn said in a statement

They discovered that the participants of their study with severe Vitamin D deficiency have more than twice chances of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Participants with moderate Vitamin D deficiency have an increased risk of any kind of dementia by 53 percent, while those with severe deficiency have 125 percent increased risk. It is alarming because dementia is said to be among the utmost challenges in these times, having 44 million recorded cases globally. It is expected to increase threefold as we reach 2050, which will be an upshot of rapid population aging.

For Alzheimer's disease, similar results were found when participants were studied. Those with moderate Vitamin D deficiency posed an increased risk of 69 percent, while severely deficient ones have 122 percent of increased risk.

The study, "Vitamin D and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease," said there are three main sources of Vitamin D: sun exposure, Vitamin D-rich foods and supplements.

Nevertheless, Dr. Llewellyn said that there’s a need for clinical trials to likewise establish whether Vitamin D supplements or consumption of foods like oily fish can defer or even inhibit the onset of the two diseases that afflict many elderly people.

“We need to be cautious at this early stage and our latest results do not demonstrate that low vitamin D levels cause dementia,” said Dr. Llewellyn.

Dr. Doug Brown, a Research and Development director of Alzheimer’s Society, said that going to the beach for as short as 15 minutes to get a dose of sunshine is sufficient to boost one’s level of Vitamin D.

“However, we’re not quite ready to say that sunlight or vitamin D supplements will reduce your risk of dementia. Large scale clinical trials are needed to determine whether increasing vitamin D levels in those with deficiencies can help prevent the dementia from developing,” Dr. Brown added.

Another evidence found by the study is, Vitamin D has a limit level that circulates in our bloodstream below that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. The researchers confirmed that Vitamin D levels that are beyond 50 nmol/L have strong association with good brain health.

The study published by Neurology, the American Academy of Neurology’s medical journal, was also supported by Mary Kinross Charitable Trust, James Tudor Foundation, Halpin Trust, Age Related Diseases and Health Trust, Norman Family Charitable Trust, and National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Research and Care South West Peninsula.

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