According to a new analysis of more than a quarter million participants of the UK Biobank, those with a high Vitamin D status were far less likely to suffer dementia as they age.

The UK Biobank is a large longevity study in the United Kingdom which is investigating the long-term health outcomes of approximately 500,000 people. The project began in 2006 and has provided extensive data related to numerous areas of health.

The new Vitamin D analysis was specifically reviewing senior participants, so the data covers a smaller subset of 269,229 participants.

According to the researchers involved in the study, participants who supplemented Vitamin D—along with those who had high blood concentrations derived from their diets—benefitted from a reduced risk of developing some kind of dementia.

Dementia a growing scourge

Dementia is a growing worldwide health concern. The word “dementia” actually describes different health conditions that, over time, can affect memory, problem-solving, language and behavior. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, while Vascular dementia is the second most common type.

Dementia affects about 950,000 people in the UK, six million people in the U.S., and more than 55 million people worldwide. UK experts estimate the number of dementia patients in their country is going to triple by 2050—just one reason why so much research currently focuses on the disease.

According to the researchers/authors writing ongoing research into the role of Vitamin D in Alzheimer’s disease suggests that the nutrient might modulate extracellular deposits known as “amyloid beta plaques.” These plaques/deposits are a type of protein found primarily in the grey matter of the brain.

The researchers also noted that Vitamin D appears to provide protection against a toxic biological process known as “amyloid beta-induced hyperphosphorylation”—a process whereby healthy neurons are driven into a diseased state.

Study details

To assess the association between Vitamin D and dementia, researchers tracked the use of both Vitamin D and multivitamin supplementation, as well as Vitamin D deficiency with the 14-year incidence of all types of dementia.

The researchers also analyzed “Vitamin D insufficiency”—a category considered still at risk, but not as critical as full-blown deficiency.

The participants were all between the ages of 55 and 69 at baseline.

Vitamin D deficiency was very common among the general population, but the deficiency rate was much more significant in those that did not take a supplement.

Non-supplement takers had a 21.5% deficiency rate, while people who took a specific Vitamin D supplement stood at a considerably lower rate of 6.9%. People who took a multivitamin, thereby receiving some Vitamin D through supplementing, were tracked at having a 9.5% deficiency rate.

After the researchers adjusted for potential co-founding factors, there was a 19-25% increased risk for all three dementia outcomes for those with Vitamin D “deficiency.” Though at less risk, participants in the “insufficient” category still saw a 10-15% increased risk of dementia.

Meanwhile, regular users of Vitamin D and multivitamins saw a 17% and 14% lower risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, respectively.

As with most observational studies where all the co-founders cannot be ruled out, the researchers cautioned that additional human clinical studies are needed in order to validate these findings.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in January 2024.

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 Optimal Whole Food Vitamin-Mineral
 Optimal Longevi-D

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Sources: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.