Dementia is one of today’s biggest health challenges for older adults. There are currently 44 million cases around the world, and this number is expected to triple by the year 2050.
An estimated billion persons around the world now have low vitamin D levels, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In fact, a major study has confirmed that older individuals who have severe vitamin D deficiency are over twice as likely to suffer from these debilitating conditions.
Scientific research says: Low vitamin D levels will increase your risk of dementia
The study, led by Dr. David Llewellyn of University of Exeter Medical School and an international team, found that those 65 and older who were severely deficient in vitamin D were 125 percent more likely to suffer from some kind of dementia. Those who were moderately deficient in this key nutrient had a 53 percent increased risk. Results were similar for Alzheimer’s disease, with moderately deficient persons having a 69 percent higher risk for Alzheimer’s and 122 percent more likely if severely deficient.
The study monitored adults 65 and over free of dementia, stroke and cardiovascular issues at the study’s inception. Participants were tracked over the course of six years to see who developed Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. While researchers expected a correlation between vitamin D and better brain health, the results were more pronounced than anticipated. Other health issues related to low vitamin D levels include a higher risk of fatality from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Vitamin D deficiency is a public health crisis
Future studies will examine the effects of taking vitamin D supplements and eating foods rich in vitamin D like oily fish on avoiding dementia and Alzheimer’s, but signs are already pointing in this direction. We also receive vitamin D from sunlight, so spending time in the sun is another important source for increasing vitamin D levels.
Some of the top causes for low vitamin D levels include:
Limited sunlight exposure: The body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Not getting enough sun exposure due to being homebound, living in cloudy climates or favoring clothing that keeps the skin covered can all impair healthy sunlight exposure.
Deficiency of vitamin D-rich foods: Those who avoid grass-fed dairy, oily (wild caught) fish or mushrooms have an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency. A low-quality, vegan diet can lead to this issue as well. And, of course, the ‘standard American diet’ (SAD) will always tend to trigger a vitamin D deficiency.
Kidney issues: Those with kidney problems may not be able to activate vitamin D in their systems. This can also occur in older individuals or anyone suffering with low energy-related issues.
Obesity: Fat cells tend to extract vitamin D from the bloodstream. Those with a body mass index of 30 or over could be at risk.
Digestive issues: Medical issues like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and cystic fibrosis can affect the intestine’s ability to take in vitamin D from food.
With so many health benefits of vitamin D, it’s wise to get tested and ensure adequate consumption of vitamin D-rich foods or supplements to keep levels optimal. Plus, getting 15 to 20 minutes per day of sun exposure – whenever possible – is crucial for optimal health.