Vitamin D, what some call the Sunshine Vitamin, is said to come from getting at least twenty minutes of outdoor exercise a few times a week. While it is true that Vitamin D does arrive through a little time outdoors, it is also present in eggs, cheese, milk, and tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Certain types of tuna and mackerel, however, may contain some varied amounts of mercury – so be sure to talk with your doctor before you rely on certain types of fish as a source of diet.

For those who do not get enough sunshine or do not eat fish or seafood on a regular basis, vitamin supplements will do as well.

A new study shows that vitamin D deficiency may very well be responsible for the onset of dementia later in life. The study took 1,658 healthy persons aged 65 who had no onset of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other mental disease. After a six-year period, the same individuals were tested again. This time, 171 persons had dementia, while 102 had Alzheimer’s. The reason? According to the study, those persons who had a vitamin D deficiency were 125 percent more likely to develop dementia and 70% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than persons who had healthy levels of vitamin D.

While the study shows an association between vitamin D, dementia, and Alzheimer’s, however, the strength of the association was not determined in the study. University of Exeter Medical School Professor David J. Llewellyn said that the study should make us aware of how great an aid vitamin D can be, but it should not make us 100% certain that vitamin D deficiency causes dementia. “We need to be cautious at this early stage and our latest results do not demonstrate that low vitamin D levels cause dementia. That said, our findings are very encouraging, and even if a small number of people could benefit, this would have enormous public health implications given the devastating and costly nature of dementia.”

The results of this study can be found in the Neurology Journal.