A study conducted at Duke-NUS Medical School, has shown that low vitamin D levels may be associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline, in the elderly.

A study done in China, recruited 1,202 participants, aged 60 and older. Researchers were interested in studying the effects of vitamin D on cognitive ability, over time. This longitudinal study required that participants be tested at baseline for vitamin D levels. Cognitive abilities were tested every two years through the use of the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). A MMSE score below 18 was considered cognitive impairment, and a drop in three or more points in the exam results, was considered to be a decline in cognition.

Results demonstrated that those individuals with low vitamin D status were more likely to experience a cognitive decline over time. It was also estimated that low vitamin D status at baseline, put an individual at two to three times the risk of developing a cognitive impairment.

It is unclear whether or not these findings would be seen across all ethnicities, as this study was done in an Asian cohort. Regardless, the results emphasize the importance of maintaining adequate and healthy vitamin D status, in order to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and impairment.

Dr. Allison Galan is a licensed ND practicing in Calgary. She has a passion for empowering her patients to be their own catalyst for change, while supporting them in their health and wellness goals. She believes whole-heartedly in the mind-body connection, which is an integral component of her practice.

Allison graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, and also holds a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. This strong background in sport science, has allowed her to incorporate sports medicine into her integrated naturopathic practice.

David B. Matchar, Choy-Lye Chei, Zhao-Xue Yin, Victoria Koh, Bibhas Chakraborty, Xiao-Ming Shi, Yi Zeng. Vitamin D Levels and the Risk of Cognitive Decline in Chinese Elderly People: the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 2016; glw128 DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glw128