The vitamin D It is popularly known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because the human body can produce it if it is exposed to sunlight, and for this reason, during the confinement forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, many people began to worry about obtaining adequate amounts. of this micronutrient not only through the diet, but also through the consumption of supplements. And it is that the deficiency of vitamin D has been associated with different health problems, including an increased risk of dementia.
A new investigation that has analyzed the relationship between vitamin D supplementation and dementia in 12,388 people has revealed that taking these vitamin supplements can reduce the risk of developing dementia. “We know that vitamin D has some effects on the brain that could have implications for reducing dementia; however, so far, the research has yielded conflicting results. Our findings provide key insights into groups that could be specifically targeted by future studies of vitamin D supplementation,” said Dr Zahinoor Ismail, Professor at Cumming School of Medicine and University of Exeter, and principal investigator.
The study team is made up of researchers from the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the University of Exeter in the UK who found that the associations with lower rates of developing dementia were significantly higher in women, compared with men, and also higher in individuals with normal cognition, compared with those who reported signs of mild cognitive impairment – changes in cognition that have been linked to an increased risk of dementia.
“Dementia prevention starts early in life. We create brain reserve from physical activity, schooling and learning a musical instrument or a second language”
“The link with vitamin D in this study suggests that taking Vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial in preventing or delaying dementiabut now we need clinical trials to confirm if this is really the case”, said Dr. Byron Creese, associate professor at the University of Exeter and co-author of the work, whose results have been published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring.
Prevent dementia with healthy habits that protect the brain
The people who participated in this study were part of the US National Alzheimer’s Coordination Center, their average age was 71 years, and they did not have dementia when they enrolled. This study was not a clinical trial so the doses of vitamin D they were taking are not known and their findings are now being tested in the VitaMIND study conducted through PROTECT, an online study based at the University of Exeter in which, together with annual questionnaires in which participants detail aspects of their lifestyle, are given cognitive tests to find out what are the factors that keep the brain active during aging.
The University of Calgary has just launched CAN-PROTECT, based on the UK platform. “CAN-PROTECT is a comprehensive national study that will provide invaluable information on which risk factors, alone or in combination, are the best targets for dementia prevention,” explains Ismail. “We hope to recruit a diverse sample of 10,000 people across the country, including the participants and their study partner, who is someone who knows them well.”
According to the researchers, combining the information of a participant and his study partner can make it easier for signs of brain aging are identified sooner. In fact, an important subcomponent of CAN-PROTECT has been designed for caregivers of people with cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer disease and related dementias, as little information is available about the long-term experience of people caring for people with dementia and how their brains age.
“The dementia prevention it starts early in life. We create brain reserve from physical activity, schooling and learning a musical instrument or a second language. In middle and old age, we still focus on exercising our brain to maintain connections, but we also explore modifiable risk factors such as lifestyle, diet, exercise and the use of vitamin D supplements”, concludes Ismail.