Vitamin D Deficiency Could Increase the Risk of Dementia

Vitamin D is one of the very few vitamins produced by the human body. This fat-soluble vitamin can be produced in the skin in the presence of sunlight. Vitamin D may also be obtained from animal sources including fish and liver oil as well as plant sources like mushrooms. A deficiency of this vitamin has long been known to affect the proper formation of bones and teeth and even affect the immune system. However, besides these known health implications of vitamin D deficiency, the condition may also present with an increased risk of dementia in people affected. This is according to a study conducted by scientists at the University of South Australia. This discovery may hold the key to the effective management of dementia.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D

Read Also: A Vitamin D Deficiency Can Increase Mortality Rates in COVID-19 Patients

What is dementia?

Dementia is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by mental decline, personality changes, a decline in muscle function, and certain sleep disorders. Due to the degenerative nature of this disease, these symptoms could worsen over time resulting in hallucinations and overt confusion. The aged people are mostly affected by the condition.

According to the CDC, about 5.8 million people are living with dementia in the US.  Dementia also affects people on a global scale, as about 55 million people are currently living with the condition.

The relationship between dementia and vitamin D deficiency

The genetic study analyzed data from 294,514 participants from the U.K Biobank. This analysis involved the implications of low levels of vitamin D (25nmol/L) on the risk of dementia and stroke.

With the aid of Non-Mendelian randomization, they were able to test for underlying causality for dementia, and stroke. The results obtained showed a strong and direct relationship between low levels of vitamin D, lower brain volumes, and an increased risk of dementia and stroke.

Read Also: Man Destroys Kidneys With Too Much Vitamin D

Clinical significance

Since we now know that there is a relationship between dementia and vitamin D deficiency, there is a prospect of using this knowledge to effectively manage the disease. To reiterate the potential implication of this discovery, the study observed that 17% of dementia cases in the United Kingdom population may have been avoided by managing the levels of vitamin D. Therefore, with the understanding that vitamin D deficiency may cause dementia, clinicians can use that knowledge to consider giving vitamin D supplements and encouraging vitamin D rich diets for patients with dementia.

Also, since dementia is a progressive disorder, early detection of the condition could present a marker that could provide a diagnosis for vitamin D deficiency. This early diagnosis will not only allow the clinician to treat dementia, but by raising vitamin D levels through subsequent therapy the clinician could avoid other medical conditions like osteomalacia and certain immunodeficiencies also associated with vitamin D deficiency.

Read Also: Vitamin D Can Help Treat Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis

Conclusion

The results of this study may hold the key to preventing dementia, thus providing hope for the millions of people diagnosed with it worldwide. Additionally, it would serve as a framework for further research on the results of preventing vitamin D deficiency.

References

Vitamin D and brain health: an observational and Mendelian randomization study

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