Vitamin-D Deficiency May Play Role in Cognitive Decline in Elderly Vitamin-D deficiency in elderly people may be linked to cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, new research finds. Seniors who have insufficient levels of the nutrient could be at risk for declining cognitive abilities—and those at highest risk may be those with darker skin, which absorbs less vitamin D ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   January 01, 2016
Vitamin-D Deficiency May Play Role in Cognitive Decline in Elderly
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Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   January 01, 2016
Vitamin-D Deficiency May Play Role in Cognitive Decline in Elderly
The ASHA Leader, January 2016, Vol. 21, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB4.21012016.16
The ASHA Leader, January 2016, Vol. 21, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB4.21012016.16
Vitamin-D deficiency in elderly people may be linked to cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, new research finds.
Seniors who have insufficient levels of the nutrient could be at risk for declining cognitive abilities—and those at highest risk may be those with darker skin, which absorbs less vitamin D from sunshine than lighter skin does. The study, from the Alzheimer’s Disease Center of the University of California, Davis, and Rutgers University, appears in the journal JAMA Neurology. Participants with low vitamin-D levels had an accelerated rate of cognitive decline and impaired performance—two to three times faster than those who had enough vitamin D.
“Independent of race or ethnicity, baseline cognitive abilities and a host of other risk factors, vitamin-D insufficiency was associated with significantly faster declines in both episodic memory and executive function performance,” says lead author Joshua Miller, a professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Rutgers when the research was conducted (and now professor and chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences).

“Vitamin-D insufficiency was associated with significantly faster declines in both episodic memory and executive-function performance.”

The five-year study followed almost 400 men and women, with a mean age of 76, at the Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Sacramento, California. The participants—41 percent Caucasian, 30 percent African-American, 25 percent Hispanic and 4 percent other race/ethnicity—were either cognitively normal, had mild impairment or had dementia at the beginning of the study. Researchers tracked their vitamin-D levels and cognitive abilities throughout the study.
In light of their results, the study authors recommend that seniors talk with their doctors about taking daily vitamin-D supplements. Sunlight and dairy products are also large sources of the nutrient.
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January 2016
Volume 21, Issue 1