Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies.
You need vitamin D to absorb calcium for bone growth. Your muscles need it for movement. It helps nerves transmit messages and strengthens your immune system.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, auto immune diseases and more.
A study out of UC Davis and Rutgers University has now linked vitamin D deficiency to an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline.
Published in JAMA Neurology, the study looked at four hundred ethnically diverse elderly men and women who lived along the same longitude.
At the beginning of the study, all participants were healthy or showed slight signs of cognitive decline. They had their blood tested for vitamin D. Twenty-six percent of the group was D deficient and thirty-six percent were vitamin D insufficient.
The researchers followed up with the group over the next five years. Those who suffered from insufficient levels of vitamin D experienced cognitive declines two to three times faster than those with adequate vitamin D levels.
"Independent of race or ethnicity, baseline cognitive abilities and a host of other risk factors, vitamin D insufficiency was associated with significantly faster declines in both episodic memory and executive function performance." - Joshua Miller, professor and chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University
The body primarily gets vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. However, people these days tend to spend less time outdoors. This is likely why most of us are low on this important nutrient.
Do you get enough vitamin D every day?
Note: Vitamin K has also been linked to slower rates of cognitive decline.