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Low Vitamin D Levels and Cognitive Decline in the Elderly

At a Glance: A study published in the journal The Journal of Gerontology found that higher vitamin D levels supported healthy cognitive function during aging.

It is well known that vitamin D is essential for maintaining healthy muscles and bone, and plays significant roles in the immune system and cardiovascular function. More and more research is showing that it plays a significant role in supporting healthy brain function.

A study published in The Journal of Gerontology included 1,202 Chinese adults over the age of 60. Baseline levels of vitamin D were measured at the beginning of the study, and cognitive tests were administered over 2 years.

Regardless of the age or gender of the subjects, individuals with lower vitamin D levels at the start of the study were approximately twice as likely to have significant cognitive decline over time. In addition, low vitamin D levels at baseline also increased the risk of future cognitive impairment by 2-3 times.

This was the first large-scale prospective study in Asia to study the association between vitamin D status and risk of cognitive decline and impairment in the Chinese elderly. The results of this study give support to the idea that vitamin D is neuroprotective by supporting healthy brain aging, and improved vitamin D status may be beneficial in supporting healthy cognitive function in aging populations.

Matchar DB, Chei CL, Yin ZX, et al. Vitamin D Levels and the Risk of Cognitive Decline in Chinese Elderly People: the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2016;71(10):1363-8.

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