Over the years, extensive research has proven the existence of a relationship between Vitamin D levels and efficient working of our brain. A fraction of receptors in the human brain are known to act for Vitamin D, suggesting that it has a vital role to play when it comes to the way a person acts, thinks, and learns. (1) On the contrary, those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease are found to lack Vitamin D receptors in a region of the brain that keeps memories, known as hippocampus. (2) Vitamin D receptors are essential to protect your brain as it protects against the tangles and plaques formed due to Alzheimer’s disease. (3)
Patients who have lower levels of Vitamin D are known to perform worse on tests that measure the ability of their brain. (4) Generally, people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease are found to have lower concentrations of Vitamin D than the optimum range. (5) However, these are only the observational studies. Further research is yet to be done so that some solid evidence may be found for the establishment of a legitimate theory. Let us take an example where a person makes relatively lesser amounts of Vitamin D because he/she is kept indoors due to Alzheimer’s disease. (6)
Where most of the cases have led to the conclusion that people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have considerably low levels of Vitamin D in their blood, there haven’t been any proper experiments that could lead to this hypothesis becoming a theory. Currently, medical professionals are conducting large scale studies to find out whether taking Vitamin D can aid the treatment of this disease or work as a curative agent. (7) The reason it becomes so difficult to jump to any conclusion at this stage is because the number of trials and experiments conducted are considered to be quite less than required.
In 2013, a widespread study was conducted in Denmark that concerned a large population of people being recorded for more than three decades. The purpose of this study was to know the relation between Vitamin D and Alzheimer’s disease, by checking if people with lower concentrations of Vitamin D in their body are more prone to the disease as those with more satisfactory concentrations of this vitamin. It was then suggested that those who have lower levels of Vitamin D are relatively more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological weaknesses. (7)
A similar study that took place in Australia in 2011 that small amounts of Vitamin D made people’s cognitive abilities better and their minds sharper. (8) Similarly, French professionals proved that memantine and Vitamin D work together to give the best results in improving the conditions of Alzheimer-affected people.
However, even after so many years of experimenting, much more time and efforts are required to reach a valid conclusion about the relationship of Vitamin D with Alzheimer’s disease.
References 1. Balion C, Griffith LE, Strifler L, et al. Vitamin D, cognition, and dementia. A systematic review and meta-analysis. Neurology 2012;79:1397-1405.
2. Oudshoorn C, Mattace-Raso FUS, van der Velde N, Colin EM, van der Cammen TJM. Higher serum vitamin D3 levels are associated with better cognitive test performance in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders 2008;25:539-543.
3. Soni M, Kos K, Lang IA, et al. Vitamin D and cognitive function. Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation 2012;243:79-82.
4. Pludowski P, Holick MF, Pilz S, et al. Vitamin D effects on musculoskeletal health, immunity, autoimmunity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, fertility, pregnancy, dementia and mortality- A review of recent evidence. Autoimmunity Reviews, 2013;12:976-989.
5. Annweiler C, Rolland Y, Schott AM, et al. Higher vitamin D dietary intake is associated with lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease: A 7-year follow-up. Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences 2012;67:1205-1211.
6. Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. New England Journal of Medicine 2007; 357: 266–281.
7. Afzal S, Bojesen SE, Nordestgaard BG. Reduced 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Alzheimer’s and Dementia 2013:1-7.
8. Stein M, Scherer SC, Ladd KS, Harrison LC. A randomized controlled trial of high-dose vitamin D2 followed by intranasal insulin in Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 2011;26:477-484.