Health experts predict that the number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease will triple in less than 30 years. When you consider that figure and the fact that Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia, you can understand the increasing interest to better understand risk factors of the disease. According to researchers, there are several preventative measures you can take to reduce your risk of cognitive decline. One of the key interests to researchers is vitamin D.
Research indicates that there are many vitamin D receptors in the brain, and vitamin D exhibits neuroprotective properties. That means that vitamin D may help prevent cognitive decline. Plus, a new study found a link between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Continue reading to learn more.
Low Blood Levels Of Vitamin D Linked To Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers behind a 2023 meta-analysis accumulated data from six studies and roughly 11,000 people. The goal was to determine if there was a link between low vitamin D levels and a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Past studies exhibited varying results, so this meta-analysis aimed to dive deeper and find a real connection.
The discovery was apparent: people with low vitamin D levels had a 59% higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than people with higher vitamin D levels. The correlation is evident, but the study didn’t indicate whether vitamin D levels changed during the follow-up period. Additionally, researchers didn’t note the factors that impacted vitamin D status. Such factors include diet, supplementation, and sun exposure. Although researchers clearly defined what low vitamin D means in the study, the cutoff doesn’t align with deficient or sufficient levels, as per general guidelines.
- Vitamin D deficiency: less than 20 ng/ml
- Vitamin D insufficiency: 20-30 ng/ml
- Vitamin D sufficiency: greater than 30 ng/ml
How To Increase Vitamin D Levels
Researchers note that you should aim to exceed sufficiency levels because sufficiency is not good enough. That’s why supplementation may be necessary to avoid vitamin D deficiency and ultimately protect against cognitive decline. This is especially true when you consider that about 41% of people have insufficient vitamin D levels.
Some foods naturally contain vitamin D, for example, certain mushrooms, fortified non-dairy milks, or fatty fish. Your food choices are very limited, unfortunately, but the body can synthesize vitamin D from the sun’s rays. Too much sun exposure, however, can increase your risk of skin cancer, especially if you don’t take measures to protect your skin. That’s why many health experts encourage people to take a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement. Vitamin D3 is the body’s preferred form of the vitamin, and it will likely be effective in battling insufficient levels. Research indicates that you need a minimum of 2,000 to 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily to achieve a 25(OH)D blood level higher than 30 ng/ml.
Vitamin D plays many roles in the body, especially in regards to cognition and overall brain health. Not only do low vitamin D levels increase your risk of cognitive decline, but you may also experience reduced immune function and hormonal imbalance. You can get your vitamin D levels checked to determine whether or not supplementation is necessary. That way, you can start optimizing vitamin D levels to support neurological function.