Vitamin D for Brain Health

Did You Know…the “sunshine vitamin” doesn’t just keep your bones healthy, it keeps your brain healthy, too?

The connection between vitamin D—the so-called “sunshine vitamin”—and bone health has been highlighted for years.  However, another connection of crucial importance has remained in the shadows.

Recent research has illuminated a link between inadequate vitamin D levels and dementia, suggesting you should start making vitamin D for brain health a top priority!

They Expected a Connection, But What They Found Took Them By Surprise 

The researchers expected to find an association, author Dr. David J Llewellyn told the Tufts University Health and News Letter, but the strength of their findings took them by surprise.  Study participants who were deficient in vitamin D were significantly more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s.  “We actually found the association was twice as strong as expected,” Llewellyn said.

Llewellyn and his fellow authors measured vitamin D levels in blood samples drawn from 1,658 men and women ages 65 and up.  At the outset of the study, none of the participants had dementia.  Over the five-year follow-up period, 171 developed dementia, and 102 of those participants were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

For the purposes of comparison, the authors separated participants into three tiers:

 Those whose vitamin D levels were at 50 nanomoles (a unit of fluid measurement) or more per liter
 Those whose levels were between 25 and 50 nanomoles
 Those whose levels were 25 or less

Compared to the first tier, the risk that those in the second tier of 25 to 50 nanomoles would develop dementia was 53% higher, and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s specifically was 69% higher.  By the conclusion of the study, those in the third tier were more than twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.

Why You Should Act on This Information Now 

This increased risk merits serious attention because the study controlled for many known dementia risk factors, such as…

  • Age
  • Education
  • Sex
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension

The study’s authors were careful to remind readers that the findings did not prove that low vitamin D levels caused dementia.  Until large-scale clinical trials are conducted, scientists will refrain from making such a claim.

The threat of dementia won’t wait, however, so neither should you according to most natural health experts.  Dementia is one of the most pressing health concerns of our time.  An estimated 44 million people worldwide are living with dementia right now.  By 2050, that number is projected to triple.  Top natural health practitioners say you should take steps now to ensure you and your loved ones won’t be a part of that statistic.

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need? 

It can be difficult to get an adequate amount of vitamin D from food; significant levels can be found in only a few foods, including…
 Egg yolks
 Fatty fish
 Fortified milk
 Canned tuna

Odds are, your diet doesn’t provide you with enough of this crucial nutrient.  While the sun may be the best-known source of this vitamin, it can prove less than ideal.  Some people—especially older individuals—don’t convert sunlight efficiently into vitamin D.  Depending on the climate where you live, there may not be enough sunlight to allow for vitamin D production during winter months.

For many, supplements offer a solution.  Expert recommendations on how much vitamin D is necessary for optimum health vary.  One that’s frequently listed is 600 IU (“International Units”) for people under 70, and 800 IU for those over 70; however, many natural health doctors recommend far higher doses.  Consider consulting a trusted health professional as you decide what’s right for you.