Low levels of vitamin D increase the risk of cognitive impairment in the elderly, according to findings from the national Health Survey for England 2000.
In this new study, researchers measured blood levels of vitamin D in 1,766 adults aged 65 or older.
All study participants completed the Abbreviated Mental Test, which includes 10 questions to assess attention, orientation in time and space, and memory.
Overall, 212 older adults were deemed to be cognitively impaired. These adults with cognitive impairment had significantly lower levels of vitamin D, even after adjusting for other factors that could influence cognition.
Previous research has linked other nutrients like iron, vitamin E and vitamin B12 to cognitive decline or the development of Alzheimer's disease in older adults.
This was the first study to look at blood levels of vitamin D and cognitive decline.
The Canadian Cancer Society recommends 1,000 IU (international units) of the vitamin D daily during the fall and winter months. Many Canadians get too little vitamin D from sun exposure, especially in the winter months.
Supplements are an important source of vitamin D as it's difficult to get the recommended amount from food alone.
To determine the dose of vitamin D you need to take, add up how much you're already getting from your multivitamin and calcium supplements. Choose a vitamin D supplement that contains vitamin D-3, instead of vitamin D-2 which is less potent.
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