More Than Skin Deep - The Latest on Vitamin D, Movement and the Mind

Craig Kraffert, MD

In this age of rapid scientific discovery, even a day can make a difference in the lives and health of our families and friends, and the world at large. Since my last post on Vitamin D, new revelations on the importance of this vitamin have been published. These findings, based on three important new studies, suggest that Vitamin D supplementation may help prevent development of Alzheimer’s disease and decreased mental function over time, especially in women. Further studies indicate that failure to receive enough Vitamin D may increase the risk of impaired physical mobility in both men and women.

Vitamin D and Alzheimer's Disease

A French team studying 500 older women has found that decreased oral Vitamin D intake is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Another research team out of Minneapolis studying more than 6,000 older women from the Midwest found that low blood Vitamin D levels are associated with a greater chance of mental decline and mental disability.

Vitamin D and Mobility Limitations

A third study, six years in the making, was concluded by Wake Forest University in North Carolina earlier this year. The study of more than 2,000 black and white men and women between the ages of 70 and 80 years indicated a 30 percent greater risk of developing mobility limitations and almost double the risk of mobility-related disability for those with low Vitamin D levels.

These findings are suggested to be the result of Vitamin D’s beneficial effects on the following: (1) muscle function and bone health; (2) diabetes; (3) high blood pressure; and (4) cardiovascular and lung disease.

Another interesting observation by the authors of this study is that the highest USFDA recommended oral dose of 800 IU Vitamin D is simply based on its effects on bone health and may not be enough to optimize the risk/benefit for the many other disease conditions listed above.

So, the conclusion and dosage recommendation from my last Vitamin D post bears repeating, especially for all of us who want to be clear skinned, sharp, lucid and mobile in our later years: supplement daily with oral Vitamin D - consider 2,000 IU - and minimize unprotected sun exposure.