Easily Available Supplement May Help Prevent Dementia, Study Finds ‘Key Ideas’

Dementia describes a group of destructive symptoms associated with continued decline in brain activity. Fortunately, researchers continue to find ways to reduce the risk of a mind-bending condition. A new study has identified a readily available supplement that may lower your chances of developing dementia.

With store shelves completely stocked with various vitamins and health foods packaged in colorful bottles, the world of supplements can be difficult to navigate.

Experts often argue that diet foods don’t do much good if you’re not deficient, but a new study published in People magazine makes a strong case for taking vitamin D.

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, may help protect against cognitive decline.

From sun exposure to supplementation, your body can get this essential nutrient from a variety of sources.

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The research team followed people who did not take vitamin D supplements and those who did.

The supplement group had 40% fewer cases of dementia compared to those who did not supplement with vitamin D.

A buildup of a protein known as amyloid in the brain is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, but according to a study, vitamin D may help get rid of the culprit.

In addition, the sunshine vitamin may also help protect the brain from the buildup of the tau protein, which describes another protein involved in the development of the mind-blowing state.

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The researchers reached these conclusions by studying more than 12,388 participants from the U.S. National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center.

The average age of the volunteers was 71, and none of them had dementia at the start of the study.

Of this cohort, about 37 percent of participants took vitamin D supplements.

The results showed that 2,696 people developed dementia within ten years.

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In addition, about 75 percent of these dementia patients were not exposed to vitamin D prior to diagnosis.

While taking the sunshine vitamin proved beneficial, the team found that the effect was significantly stronger in women than in men.

The strength of vitamin D was also more pronounced in people with normal cognition compared to those who reported signs of mild cognitive impairment, which were previously associated with a higher risk of dementia.

Professor Zahinor Ismail of the University of Calgary and the University of Exeter, who led the study, said: “Our results provide key insights into groups that may be specifically targeted for vitamin D supplementation.

“Overall, we found evidence that supplementing earlier may be particularly beneficial, before the onset of cognitive decline.”

Vitamin D also had a greater effect on those who did not have the APOEe4 gene, which poses a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.

The researchers hypothesized that people with this gene are better at absorbing vitamin D from the gut, possibly reducing the beneficial effects on the brain. However, blood levels were not taken to test this hypothesis.

Co-author Dr Byron Creese, from the University of Exeter, said: “Preventing dementia or even delaying its onset is vital given the growing number of people affected.

“The association with vitamin D in this study suggests that vitamin D supplementation may be helpful in preventing or slowing dementia, but we now need clinical trials to confirm whether this is indeed the case.

“The ongoing VitaMIND study at the University of Exeter is further investigating this issue by randomly assigning participants to either vitamin D or placebo, and examining changes in memory and thinking tests over time.”

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