Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of developing dementia

Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of developing dementia

Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of developing dementia

Researchers claim that increasing rates can prevent about 17% of cases. (Photo: Senior Airman Jensen Stidham / Public Photos)

In addition to the already known negative effects on bone health, vitamin D deficiency has been linked in several studies to the effects on the brain and cardiovascular disease. Now, a new paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was the first to use genetic analysis to find a causal link between low levels of compounds and a 54% higher risk of developing dementia.

A study conducted by researchers from the University of South Australia, analyzed information from almost 295,000 participants available in the UK Biobank, the British health database. The aim was to understand the impact of these suboptimal levels of vitamin D (25 nmol / l) on the diagnosis of dementia and stroke.

“Vitamin D is a hormone that is increasingly recognized for its widespread effects, including brain health, but so far it has been very difficult to examine what would happen if we prevented the deficiency. “Our study is the first to examine the impact of very low levels of vitamin D on the risk of dementia and stroke using robust genetic analysis in a large population,” the statement said.

An innovative method used by scientists mixes genetic analysis with traditional epidemiology, and is called Mendelian randomization (MR). The approach starts with a variation of a gene with known functions to assess the causal links between risk factors and disease. For example, if a gene that specifically acts on what would be the greatest risk is also associated with the problem, it indicates that there is causality.

Disease prevention

In a new study, researchers used this technique for the first time to test this relationship between low vitamin D levels and the outcome of dementia and stroke. The conclusion was that decreased levels, by 25 nmol / l, were associated with lower brain volume and an increased risk of both health problems, but directly only with dementia.

This is because genetic analysis of the images showed that the risk of dementia, increased by 54%, is a direct consequence of the lack of compounds. According to those responsible for the study, this indicates that the intervention of raising vitamin D levels from 25 to 50 nmol / l could prevent cases of the disease.

“In this population in the United Kingdom, we noticed that up to 17% of dementia cases could be prevented by increasing vitamin D levels to stay within normal limits,” says Elina.

Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning stating that the world was failing to fight dementia – one of Alzheimer’s causes – and said the diagnosis could reach 139 million people. 2050

In the analysis for stroke and lower brain volume, although observation of the data indicated an increase in cases in people with lower vitamin D, genetic assessment did not indicate a cause-and-effect relationship.

However, the answer to the connection may lie in another study published by the same team of researchers at the end of last year, in the scientific journal European Heart Journal.

In it, the scientists used the technique of genetic analysis in about 270,000 participants and concluded that low vitamin D generally increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, although in a more timid way than in dementia. In their work, the researchers claimed that increasing the dose of the compound could prevent 6% of cases of heart problems.