Vitamin D Levels Predict Cognitive Decline
Reference: Neurology Nov 2014
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It’s late November. You haven’t been out in the sun for over 2 months. But that hardly matters, as the angle of the sun has been too low since about Oct 1 to make any effective D when you do go out. And you are older than you were last year, making your skin a bit less able to make D. With a half life of about 30 days, your D level is dropping. And the level to which it drops will predict how well your brain is working.
You are kidding! Vitamin D and brain health? That’s what this article is about. 1927 Italian elderly were given the Mini Mental Status Exam (MMSE) and then followed for 4 years. Their mean level of D was 33 ng and 28% had levels below 20 ng. at baseline. 6% were below 10 ng. Having Vitamin D levels below 30 ng (75 nanomoles) predicted a 35% chance of showing cognitive decline below 24 points on the MMSE four years later. Click on the link above and take the exam yourself. Hopefully, you score over 24.
Why is this going on? What does Vitamin D do? There are so many studies that have recently shown the lack of effect on longevity of Vitamin D that it seems a bit passé to bring back another that shows remarkable predictive effect of mental status.
Vitamin D is fundamentally your hormone for cellular maturation. Our brains are not fixed computers, humming along and gradually losing neurons. It is a vibrant, growing, reacting and changing organ than needs to constantly be nursed along with a healthy environment around it. It grows new cells, makes new connections, develops new pathways when properly stimulated and nourished. Vitamin D would be there to help cells mature when that is called for.
There are many other factors that appear to play a role in brain health. The predominant one, in my opinion, is the low grade persistently damaging effect of slightly higher levels of blood glucose. Our brain is not designed to run on glucose all the time. To be healthy, it needs to run on ketones some of the time. Modern civilization provides us with glucose in a constant stream of delectable goodies. Not eating for 12 hours every day (7 p to 7 am) is one good strategy to get a period of daily ketosis. 14 hours would be better. A couple of weeks each year on the ketogenic diet would be better still. Daily exercise to drive your glucose down would be best yet. All of those are effective strategies to conserve brain health.
The authors call for prospective studies to see if this will hold up. I’m skeptical we can do them, because I believe it takes too long a period of time to show the necessary improvement, and no one is willing to do any intervention for that long. I’m also skeptical in our current scientific method of doing one isolated intervention at a time. I believe Vitamins K2 and A are partners with Vitamin D in the cellular development story. It is my belief that interventions that will succeed will necessarily combine an environment of multiple interventions, of which sufficient D is only one.
WWW. What will work for me. I’ve done this idea before. Look in my archives above under Vitamin D and there are several articles on it. What startled me was that I measured my D level two months ago and found myself at 22 when I was taking 5000 IU a day. And that was at the end of summer. I must have a lousy Vit D carrying protein, or I must digest it faster. Something is amiss. So, I’m back on 10,000 IU a day and I intend to get my D level measured. For you, I want your D level to be comfortably over 32 ng. A good healthy margin would be 45-55 – what you get when you live in steady sunshine, all the time.
- Vitamin D is your brains’ most important hormone? T or F
False. It’s one of many factors, all of which carry some weight.
- Vitamin D deficiency occurs because we don’t get enough sunlight? T or F
Mostly true. Getting older makes for less able skin conversion of sunlight. Living indoors, wearing clothes, living far up north, having poor receptors might all be other factors of significance.
- Low Vitamin D below 20 ng is predictive of future cognitive decline. T or F
That’s what I want you to take with you
- Getting your D level checked once a year is a good health strategy. T or F
Enough for me to pay for it myself if necessary
- Not eating for 12 hours every day might be another good strategy for brain health.
You got it.. And less glucose containing foods while you are at it.