Now, it seems, we all should have continued drinking our fortified milk as we age, or at least supplementing the vitamin in other ways. In an article on ScienceDaily titled, "Low Levels Of Vitamin D Link To Cognitive Problems In Older People," the finding is announced by researchers from the Peninsula Medical School, the University of Cambridge and the University of Michigan, that there is a relationship between Vitamin D and cognitive impairment as people age. This relates, also, to Alzheimer's disease, as there has been a connection made between cognitive impairment and AD.
The researchers studied 2000 adults, 65 and older, who were part of the Health Survey for England, in 2000. The study assessed the cognitive function of the participants. It was found that people with low levels of Vitamin D were more than twice as likely to show cognitive impairment.
Vitamin D supports many bodily functions including healthy bones, absorption of calcium and promoting a healthy immune system. I remember having been sternly warned, when I was growing up, against taking too much Vitamin D, as it's fat soluble and therefore can be stored in the body. The maximum limit in multivitamins was what today is considered very low. Now, much more is known about the value of vitamin D, and the amount we need is also better known. Still, there are physicians that are not trained in nutrition, and many of them will warn against supplements, especially fat soluable ones.
The main sources of Vitamin D are sunlight, oily fish and supplements or supplemented foods. According to the article, as people age, their skin is less likely to absorb Vitamin D from sun. It's one more function that declines as we age. However, this is one we can do something about, which I find very encouraging.
The research paper, which will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Geriatric Psychology and Neurology, quotes a researcher as saying, "This has been proposed in the past as a way of improving bone health in older people, but our results suggest it might also have other benefits. We need to investigate whether vitamin D supplementation is a cost-effective and low-risk way of reducing older people's risks of developing cognitive impairment and dementia."
Fish oil in the form of Omega-3 fatty acids, a Mediterranean diet, exercise and now Vitamin D are all things we can do to help ourselves. Will these things guarantee us that we won't develop Alzheimer's? No. But what can it hurt?
To me, it's empowering to find things that can protect my health while more research is done to help those who have the disease. We share an aging population with England and much of the world. New ways to keep aging people healthy will, in the end, leave more money to use to care for those who do develop Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses, no matter how hard they try to avoid it. They deserve every penny we can send their way.
Published On: January 28, 2009