An international study published in the journal Neurology reports that seniors with too little vitamin D in their blood may be up to twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Keep reading to learn more about how vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.
The Sunshine Vitamin
For most people, sunlight is their primary source of vitamin D, but the vitamin is also found in fatty fish such as salmon and foods such as fortified cereals and milk products. A fat-soluble nutrient, vitamin D is stored in the body and works with calcium to build and maintain strong bones. It’s also involved in moderating cell growth, regulating the immune system, and controlling inflammation.
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Vitamin D Deficiency Health Effects
Seniors are particularly prone to vitamin D deficiencies because as the body ages, it becomes less effective at converting the vitamin into a form the body can use. Several studies have linked this vitamin deficiency to an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation, diabetes, neurological disorders, and even cancer.
The international study published in Neurology looked at blood samples collected from 1,600 mentally healthy adults over age 65 and found that participants with low levels of vitamin D were 1.7 times more likely to develop dementia. Those with severe deficiencies increased their risk of dementia by up to 125 percent.
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Recommended Amount of Vitamin D
Adults aged 70 and older need at least 800 international units of vitamin D every day, but they should get no more than 4,000 IU. Most experts advise against taking vitamin D supplements, as too much of the nutrient can be dangerous for a senior’s health. A short 10-minute walk in the sunshine is a healthier option. Seniors can also schedule visits with their doctors, who can perform simple blood tests to determine whether their vitamin D intake is sufficient.
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