Dementia is one of the leading reasons for dependence and disability in the elderly worldwide, affecting behavior and thinking as we age. Genetic research points to a direct link between vitamin D deficiency and dementia.
The study looked at the impact of very low vitamin D levels on stroke and dementia risk, using robust genetic analyzes in a large population.
Dementia is a progressive or chronic syndrome that leads to impairment of cognitive function. Worldwide, more than 55 million people have dementia and 10 million new cases of dementia are diagnosed every year.
Examining the link between neuroimaging functions, vitamin D, and the risk of stroke and dementia, the study found:
- Low vitamin D levels were linked to reduced brain volumes and an increased risk of stroke and dementia
- Genetic analyzes have shown a causal effect between vitamin D deficiency and dementia.
- In certain populations, about 17% of dementia cases can be prevented by increasing vitamin D to normal levels of 50 nmol/L.
Data were analyzed from 294,514 participants in the UK Biobank, looking at how low vitamin D levels of 25 nmol/L affect the risk of stroke and dementia. A technique for measuring gene variation to determine the causal effect of a modifiable disease factor, known as nonlinear Mendelian randomization, was used to test underlying neuroimaging outcome causality, stroke and dementia.
Vitamin D is known for its extensive health benefits, including brain benefits, but until now it has been difficult to determine what would happen if vitamin D deficiency could be prevented.
In some cases, where vitamin D deficiency is relatively common, the results have important implications for dementia risk. In fact, in this sample population, it was observed that as many as 17% of dementia cases could have been prevented by increasing vitamin D levels to within a normal range.
The results are extremely important given the high prevalence of dementia worldwide.
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