With rates of Alzheimer's disease on the rise, researchers are constantly seeking new insight into what causes this disease, how to prevent it, and how to possibly reverse it. According to the Alzheimer's Association, this year, 5.1 million Americans are struggling with dementia, and by 2025, this number is expected to increase by 40% to 7.1 million. At least, that is, unless researchers find a way to slow or stop its progress.
Fortunately, researchers are releasing new information regularly about preventative steps you can take to lower your risk of dementia. In fact, they just published one such study in July. In it, researchers found an interesting link between cognitive function and blood serum levels of vitamin D3 in older adults.
For this study, the researchers measured D3, plasma glucose, and insulin levels in a group of adults aged 65 or older. They also measured the participants' cognitive function using a number of tests, including the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). This is a common tool in assessing dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
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The researchers labeled as poor performers those who scored in the lowest 10% on the cognitive tests. When they compared the distribution of results to the blood tests they had conducted, they found something interesting.
Those who had the highest levels of vitamin D3 were 50% less likely to be poor performers than those with the lowest D3 levels. In general, serum vitamin D3 levels correlated well with improved executive function and episodic memory. While there was no direct association between vitamin D3 and blood glucose or insulin, the researchers did find that increased insulin improved the correlation between vitamin D3 and executive function.
The researchers concluded that higher blood serum levels of vitamin D3 were "significantly associated with better attention and working memory performance." If you aren't sure where your D3 levels are at, your doctor can perform a simple blood test to tell you. The optimum vitamin D level is between 65-75 ng/ml. If your levels are below that (and most people are), consider a vitamin D supplement. A good place to start is to take a 50,000 unit vitamin D3 capsule once a week. Vitamin D has a number of positive effects on your overall health – this news about its effects on cognitive function is an added bonus.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
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