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Elder's Vitamin D Status and Cognitive Function

A new prospective cohort study was conducted to examine the relationship between 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels (the storage form of vitamin D) and cognitive performance over time in older adults. 2,777 community-dwelling participants aged 70 to 79 (at baseline) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Memphis, Tennessee volunteered for the 4-year study.

Vitamin D status was categorized as 25(OH)D levels of less than 20.0 ng/mL, 20.0 to 29.9 ng/mL, or 30.0 ng/mL or greater. Cognition was measured using the modified Mini-Mental State Examination (3MS) and Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST).

Results showed 68% of participants had 25(OH)D levels of less than 30.0 ng/mL, and lower 25(OH)D levels were associated with lower baseline cognitive scores on the 3MS and the DSST. Participants with low 25(OH)D levels also had greater declines in 3MS scores over 4 years than those with higher levels.

The researchers concluded, "low 25(OH)D levels were associated with worse global cognitive function and greater decline over time according to the 3MS. Intervention trials are needed to determine whether vitamin D supplementation can reduce cognitive decline."

So while we don't know whether we can see a reversal of cognitive decline by supplementing with vitamin D, it looks like keeping vitamin D levels high (whether through supplementation or smart sun exposure) in the first place is a good idea.

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Source: Relationship between 25-hydroxyvitamin d and cognitive function in older adults: the health, aging and body composition study

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