Vitamin D: The Best Treatment for Dementia?

By , Category : Brain Function

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Natural Treatment for DementiaAs the old saying goes—a mind is a terrible thing to waste. The mind is an essential, yet fragile, component of the human body.

We need it on a daily basis, and rely on it to aid us in making choices that will affect the rest of our lives. But what happens when the mind begins to deteriorate and dementia sets in?

Dementia, or in more severe cases, Alzheimer’s disease, is one of the leading diseases in the U.S. today.

There is no cure for dementia, but there are key elements that many people are lacking, which can treat, or even prevent, dementia. One of those key components is vitamin D.Is there a direct link between the lack of vitamin D and dementia? Let’s find out.

Just How Important Is Vitamin D?

According to researchers, more than half of the U.S. population is at risk for a vitamin D deficiency. Among that populace, the risk is about 95% for seniors. Certain amounts of brain tissue contain vitamin D receptors, and when those receptors are activated by vitamin D, it facilitates nerve growth in the brain. As you get older, there is a chance that your brain tissue will begin to deteriorate, which means that those receptors may not generate nerve growth, if your brain is lacking vitamin D.Researchers also believe that vitamin D levels can boost certain levels of vital brain chemicals! It can protect brain cells by gradually increasing the effectiveness of “glial” cells and nurse the damaged neurons back to health. The key is: You shouldn’t wait until you are diagnosed with dementia, or have a vitamin D deficiency. Make sure to consume vitamin D on a regular basis, so you do not run into complications later in life.

Link Between Vitamin D and Dementia

There are countless studies on the link between having a vitamin D deficiency and dementia. More recently, a team of international researchers observed 1,600 seniors for about six years. What they discovered was that those who were severely deficient in vitamin D were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia, compared to those who had average or higher levels of vitamin D.

Another interesting statistic from the study was that participants who only had a mild deficiency of vitamin D, had a 53% higher risk of being diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, while those who had a severe deficiency of vitamin D had a 125% higher chance of being diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s. David Llewellyn, the lead author of the research study, found the results astonishing; “The results were surprising, we actually found that the association was twice as strong as we anticipated.”

The research also suggests that there is a vitamin D threshold—if that threshold is low, around 20/ng/ml, then your risk of dementia increases. Consuming higher levels of vitamin D is associated with greater brain efficiency and brain health.

Dementia Symptoms

The biggest mistake that many people make is automatically linking memory loss to dementia. In order for an individual to be diagnosed with dementia, he/she would need to suffer from at least two types of impairments—short-term memory loss and mood changes. These impairments need to be significant enough to interfere with the individual’s everyday life.

1. Short-Term Memory

Trouble with memory can be an early sign of dementia. However, this change often happens in small doses; more along the lines of short-term memory loss rather than long-term. For example, someone may be able to remember a vacation he/she took years ago, but cannot remember what he had for lunch. She may not remember why she went into a certain room or she forgot where she placed her glasses.

2. Changes in Mood

Everyone gets in bad moods sometimes, so this aspect of dementia may be tricky to diagnosis. But there are certain signs to look out for: If the person becomes extremely depressed, it is an early symptom of dementia. If the person is normally shy and quiet, but has now emerged as outspoken and outgoing, this can be a sign of dementia.

Recommended Vitamin D Intake

The recommended dose of vitamin D for adults who are under the age of 69 is 600 IU/day, and for adults who are over 70-years-old is 800 IU/day. Some adults require more vitamin D because they spend less time outdoors, where you can get natural vitamin D from the sun. For those who enjoy spending time outdoors, you need to monitor your skin color.

If you are very light-skinned, you will want to expose large amounts of your bare skin to the sunlight until it turns to the lightest shade of pink. If you usually get sunburned after 30 minutes of sun exposure, then it may be better to only expose yourself for about 15 minutes. Who knew that the sun’s rays were the most natural treatment for dementia and vitamin D deficiency?

Of course there are other natural treatments for dementia and vitamin D deficiency. Since doctors worry about skin cancer risks due to sun exposure, you can get your vitamin D from these food sources:

  • Cod liver oil
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Orange juice
  • Milk
  • Yogurt

The message is simple: consuming higher levels of vitamin D is associated with greater brain efficiency and brain health. If you consume vitamin D on a regular basis, you can help prevent complications later in life.

Try it. Your mind will thank you.

See More :

Sources:
Ellis, E.M., “Old Age or Something Else? 10 Early Signs of Dementia,” August 23, 2013; http://www.healthline.com/health/dementia/early-warning-signs#Overview1.
Mercola, J., “Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Dementia Confirmed,” November 6, 2014; http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/11/06/vitamin-d-deficiency-dementia.aspx.
Sauer, A., “Link Found Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Dementia,” August 27, 2014; http://www.alzheimers.net/8-27-14-vitamin-d-and-dementia.




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Dr. Victor Marchione, MD

About the Author, Browse Victor's Articles

Victor Marchione, MD received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and his Medical Degree from the University of Messina in 1981. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for over 20 years. Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The... Read Full Bio »