Vitamin D is an essential nutrient most often associated with bone health. However, the “sunshine vitamin” has been found to contribute to a range of other health benefits. Most recently, a new study suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be associated with a significantly higher rate of cognitive decline.
Participants in the study included 382 racially and ethnically diverse men and women in Northern California with a mean age of 76. Forty-one percent of the participants were white, 30% were African American, 25% were Hispanic, and 4% were from other racial/ethnic groups. They were either cognitively normal or had mild cognitive impairment or dementia.
At baseline, 26% of the participants were vitamin D deficient and 35% were vitamin D insufficient. Fifty-four percent of the Caucasian participants had low vitamin D, compared with 70% of the African American and Hispanic participants.
After examining the data, the researchers found that the rate of cognitive decline was two to three times faster in the participants who were vitamin D deficient when compared with those who had adequate vitamin D blood levels.
Researchers from UC Davis and Rutgers University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on September 14, 2015, in JAMA Neurology.
Previous studies have associated vitamin D with reducing the risk of skin damage, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, combating diabetes, and improving age related macular degeneration.
Vitamin D can be found in milk, fortified cereals, fish, and eggs. Your body also processes vitamin D from the sun but it becomes harder for our bodies to process it as we age. A high quality vitamin D supplement is always a good option if you feel that you’re not getting enough through diet and sun.