Researchers Find That Brains with More Vitamin D Function Better Cognitively; Small Study, Which Is First to Examine Vitamin D Levels In Brain Tissue, May Help Scientists Further Understand Dementia and Its Causes

Sarah Booth, PhD
An estimated 55 million people worldwide live with dementia, a number that’s expected to rise as the global population ages. To find treatments that can slow or stop the disease, scientists need to better understand the factors that can cause dementia. Researchers at Tufts University have completed the first study examining levels of vitamin D in brain tissue, specifically in adults who suffered from varying rates of cognitive decline. They found that members of this group with higher levels of vitamin D in their brains had better cognitive function. The study was published December 7 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. The open-access article is titled “Brain Vitamin D Forms, Cognitive Decline, and Neuropathology in Community-Dwelling Older Adults.” “This research reinforces the importance of studying how food and nutrients create resilience to protect the aging brain against diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias,” said senior and corresponding author Sarah Booth, PhD, Director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts and lead scientist of the HNRCA’s Vitamin K Team. Vitamin D supports many functions in the body, including immune responses and maintaining healthy bones. Dietary sources include fatty fish and fortified beverages (such as milk or orange juice); brief exposure to sunlight also provides a dose of vitamin D.
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