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Common Vitamin Affecting Thinking And Behaviors As You Age – Says New Research

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Manish Saini
Manish works as a Journalist and writer at Revyuh.com. He has studied Political Science and graduated from Delhi University. He is a Political engineer, fascinated by politics, and traditional businesses. He is also attached to many NGO's in the country and helping poor children to get the basic education. Email: Manish (at) revyuh (dot) com

Age-related cognitive decline due to dementia is a leading cause of disability and dependence worldwide. But what if you could halt the progression of this degenerative disease?

A new genetic study from the University of South Australia shows a direct link between dementia and not getting enough vitamin D.

The study, which looked into the link between vitamin D, neuroimaging characteristics, and the occurrence of dementia and stroke, found:

  • Vitamin D deficiency reduced brain volume and increased the risk of dementia and stroke.
  • Genetic tests showed that not getting enough vitamin D causes dementia.
  • In some groups, boosting everyone to normal vitamin D levels (50 nmol/L) could prevent up to 17 percent of dementia cases.

Dementia is a chronic or progressive disorder characterized by a decline in cognitive function. Dementia affects around 487,500 Australians and is the country’s second-biggest cause of mortality. Dementia affects more than 55 million people worldwide, with 10 million new cases diagnosed each year.

The genetic study, which was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, looked at data from 294,514 people in the UK Biobank to see if low vitamin D levels (25 nmol/L) increased the risk of dementia and stroke. Nonlinear Mendelian randomization (MR) was used to test for underlying causality for neuroimaging results, dementia, and stroke. MR is a way of using measurable variation in genes to assess the causal effect of a modifiable exposure on disease.

Professor Elina Hyppönen, senior investigator and director of UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health, believes the findings are crucial for preventing dementia and understanding the importance of eliminating vitamin D deficiency.

“Vitamin D is a hormone precursor that is increasingly recognised for widespread effects, including on brain health,” explains Prof Hyppönen. However, “until now it has been very difficult to examine what would happen if we were able to prevent vitamin D deficiency.”

“Our study is the first to examine the effect of very low levels of vitamin D on the risks of dementia and stroke, using robust genetic analyses among a large population.

“In some contexts, where vitamin D deficiency is relatively common, our findings have important implications for dementia risks. Indeed, in this UK population, we observed that up to 17 per cent of dementia cases might have been avoided by boosting vitamin D levels to be within a normal range.”

Given the increasing prevalence of dementia around the world, the findings are extremely noteworthy.

Prof Hyppönen states, “Dementia is a progressive and debilitating disease that can devastate individuals and families alike.”

“If we’re able to change this reality through ensuring that none of us is severely vitamin D deficient, it would also have further benefits and we could change the health and wellbeing for thousands.”

“Most of us are likely to be ok, but for anyone who for whatever reason may not receive enough vitamin D from the sun, modifications to diet may not be enough, and supplementation may well be needed.”

Image Credit: Getty

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