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Vitamin D and Cognitive Decline

Low vitamin D levels have been correlated with cardiovascular disease, various autoimmune diseases, diabetes, cancer, falls, fractures, and depression.
Is vitamin D deficiency in elders also a risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer disease?  We know that vitamin D plays a critical role in the proper functioning of nerves and helps to reduce inflammation.  Thus, a role for vitamin D in the development of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer Disease (AD) is plausible.

To examine this association, researchers studied 1658 ambulatory adults (mean baseline age, 74) who were free from dementia, cardiovascular disease, and stroke who participated in the U.S. population-based Cardiovascular Health Study.  Vitamin D deficiency was defined as 25 to 50 nmol/L and severe deficiency as <25 nmol/L.

Low vitamin D levels were most often associated with female sex, black race, obesity, and fewer minutes walking for physical activity.  Low levels were also associated with greater alcohol consumption and current smoking

During a mean follow-up of 5.6 years, 171 participants developed all-cause dementia, including 102 with AD. The risks for both all-cause dementia and AD were significantly higher in participants who were either vitamin D-deficient (53% and 69% higher risks, respectively) or severely deficient (125% and 122% higher risks, respectively).  Vitamin D deficiency was also associated with a greater decline in global cognitive function over 4 years of follow-up.

These results confirm that vitamin D deficiency is associated with substantially increased risks for all-cause dementia and AD. These results raise important new possibilities for treatment and prevention of these dementias including good nutrition and Vitamin D supplementation when blood levels are shown to be deficient.

References
Littlejohns TJ et al. Vitamin D and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease. Neurology 2014 Sep 2;


Original post may be found on alixaRX.com blog.

  
Guest Post by Dr. Albert Barber:

Dr. Barber is a Director of Pharmacy Services for alixaRx, a national long-term care pharmacy. He is responsible for clinical education and works on regulatory affairs for alixaRx. Previously he was Director of Pharmacy for Golden Living, a provider of long-term and post-acute care for residents needing skilled nursing and assisted living services. He currently serves as the clinical consultant pharmacist for Golden Living Kirtland, Ohio. Al also provides drug therapy consultations to seniors living in the community through his consulting practice, Clinical Rx Consulting. Primary areas of practice include: post-acute care, geriatrics, psychopharmacology, and pain management.

Al is a Past-President of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP). He also serves as national faculty for the APhA Medication Therapy Management Certificate Program.

Pedagogy offers several online continuing education courses for nurses and accredited courses for long term care administrators dealing with the management of dementia.

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Posted: 2/2/2015 12:14:43 PM
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