New research indicates that if you are 60 years of age or more, you may benefit from a daily vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D supplementation is controversial and the benefits have been debated. However, reports published today (Sept. 15) in the Journal of the American Medical Association-Neurology show that people with low levels of vitamin D experience cognitive decline at a much faster rate than people with what are considered adequate levels.
The importance of vitamin D for bone growth is an accepted fact, but its major impact on other body functions, especially the brain, is emerging. Miller’s study involved participants with normal cognition, mild cognitive loss, and dementia. Earlier studies of vitamin D and dementia were not racially and ethnically diverse, but this study included white, African Americans and Hispanics.
Overall 61 percent of the study population had low vitamin D blood levels, with 54 percent of the whites and 70 percent of the African-Americans and Hispanics demonstrating low levels.
Vitamin D is obtained primarily from being in the sun. People with darker skin are at greater risk for low levels of vitamin D because melanin, the pigment that creates skin color, blocks the ultra-violet rays that help the skin synthesize vitamin D. Supplementation can make a big difference to people who wisely avoid the sun because of the risk of skin cancer and all people of color, essentially everyone.
Without adequate vitamin D levels cognition declines faster in all races and ethnicities. As is the case with almost everything, too can cause side effects, but given these study results it is time to talk to your doctor about taking vitamin D supplements. Taken properly vitamin D can’t hurt, but you could suffer if you don’t take in. I’m in. Anything that has the potential to prevent dementia deserves a look.
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