Vitamin D Newsletter


Mild Dementia

Lorenz from New York writes:

Dr. Cannell: My grandmother has had signs of early dementia for the last two years. I started giving her 5,000 units of vitamin D every day about six months ago. The results are amazing. Her memory is better, she no longer gets confused, and I can tell she feels better. She is on the way back to us! Is there any evidence that vitamin D can help dementia? Thanks for all you do.

Dr. Cannell replies:

There is no interventional evidence; that is, no one has given that amount of vitamin D to mildly demented patients to see if it helps. Remember, once the brain shrinks, as it does in dementia, vitamin D should have little effect. Important animal research recently showed activated vitamin D3 acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and completely reverses the age-related increase in the inflammatory markers that accompany dementia, meaning they discovered the mechanism by which vitamin D may prevent dementia.

At least four studies have incidentally found that demented patients have low vitamin D levels. The obvious explanation is that demented patients dont go outside as much. However, Dr. Dhesi found associations between vitamin D and cognition within a narrow range of cognition, harder to explain by outdoor behavior. Dr. Flicker found the association, even after adjusting for outdoor exposure, suggesting causation.

Recently the Australians showed that multiple areas of the human brain contain both the vitamin D receptor and the ability to activate vitamin D into the powerful steroid hormone, calcitriol. This means vitamin D therapy may have implications for a wide variety of neurological and psychiatric illnesses. I'm glad your grandmother is better but I'm not surprised. One on the doctors I work with noticed similar improvements with his mildly-demented mother.

Page last edited: 17 May 2011