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Vitamin D stops dementia, strokes

HEALTH

A world-first study from the University of South Australia (UniSA) has found a direct link between dementia and stroke and a lack of vitamin D. Below-par levels of vitamin D were also associated with lower brain volumes. It also suggests that in some populations dementia might be prevented by increasing vitamin D levels to baseline levels of vitamin D (50 nmol/L), which even then may not be optimal.


The study’s researchers analysed data from 294,514 participants in the UK Biobank and found a causal link between low levels of vitamin D (25 nmol/L) and dementia and stroke.


Senior investigator and Director of UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health, Professor Elina Hyppönen, says, “Vitamin D is a hormone precursor that is increasingly recognised for [its] widespread effects, including on brain health, but until now it has been very difficult to examine what would happen if we were able to prevent vitamin D deficiency. Our study is the first to examine the effect of very low levels of vitamin D on the risks of dementia and stroke, using robust genetic analyses among a large population . . . We observed that up to 17 percent of dementia cases might have been avoided by boosting vitamin D levels to be within a normal range.


“Most of us are likely to be okay, but for anyone who for whatever reason may not receive enough vitamin D from the sun, modifications to diet may not be enough, and supplementation may well be needed,” she adds.


Around 487,500 Australians live with dementia and it’s the country’s second leading cause of death. Globally, more than 55 million people have dementia with 10 million new cases diagnosed every year.

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