Study "Confirms" Link Between Low Vitamin D Levels and Dementia, Researchers Say — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
August 7, 2014

Study "Confirms" Link Between Low Vitamin D Levels and Dementia, Researchers Say

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, FASAM

A new study in Neurology adds to the mounting evidence linking vitamin D deficiency with increased risk for dementia and Alzheimer disease (AD).

Some 1700 older adults free of dementia, stroke, and cardiovascular disease underwent serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D measurement and then were followed for roughly 6 years. During that time, some 170 developed all-cause dementia and 100 developed AD.

Compared with participants with sufficient baseline vitamin D levels (50 nmol/L or higher), those with deficient levels (25-50 nmol/L) had significantly increased risks for dementia (hazard ratio, 1.5) and AD (HR, 1.7). Relative risks were even higher for those with severely deficient vitamin D levels (HR, 2.2 for either dementia or AD).

The researchers conclude, "Our results confirm that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease. This adds to the ongoing debate about the role of vitamin D in nonskeletal conditions."

Reader Comments (6)

John Schmitz, PA-C Other Healthcare Professional, Internal Medicine, Community Clinic

Dealing with adult and elderly women in a relatively northern area (Boston), this is just one more reason to push vitamin D in moderate doses.

Claude Mondiere Physician, Other, Houston

I worked in France as a clinical researcher in MS and I was thinking of the differences between patients in the metabolism of the Vit D and the genetic path of hydroxylation. I was prescribing Dedrogyl with adjustment depending of the blood test. And my patients were feeling better.

Nitin trivedi Physician, Endocrinology

We should look at the study very carefully. Another possible reasons for the association of vitamin D deficiency with dementia is that patients with dementia may not get enough sunlight exposure because these patients may not be as ambulatory as patients without dementia.

Irene Campbell-Taylor MB ChB, PhD Other Healthcare Professional, Neurology, Private practice

If this were the case, the rates of dementia should be lower in Australia and the Scandinavian countries because of 1) sunlight and 2) a diet heavy in fish. I believe this has been investigated in MS on a global basis.

David Foster, MD Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice, Oregon

There is a great gap between "associated" and "caused". Is there any study that suggests that manipulating the serum D3 level reduces dementia, or is it equally possible that dementia causes low vitamin D. We've made the same mistake with serum cholesterol and discovered the futility of treating with drugs that have no endothelial protection, regardless if cholesterol is reduced, and also misinterpreted folic acid's cause/effect on homocysteine.


Does the "associated" mean causation. That is what clinicians need to know.

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