Dementia has been one of the leading reasons for disability and vulnerability among the elderly around the world, impacting people’s thinking and habits as they get older. What if, on the other hand, you could halt the progression of this degenerative disease?
New genetic research demonstrates a direct connection between dementia and vitamin D deficiency, and world-first research from the University of South Australia may make this a fact.
Dementia is a progressive or chronic condition in which cognitive function deteriorates. Dementia affects around 487,500 Australians and is the country’s second biggest cause of mortality. Dementia affects more than 55 million persons worldwide, with 10 million cases diagnosed each year.
The genetic study, which was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, looked at data from 294,514 people in the UK Biobank to see if low vitamin D levels (25 nmol/L) increased the risk of dementia and strokes. Nonlinear Mendelian randomization (MR) was used to test for underlying cause and effect for neuroimaging consequences, dementia, and stroke. MR is a technique of using evaluated variation in genes to analyze the causal effect of a changeable exposure on disease.
Professor Elina Hyppönen, senior investigator and director of UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health, believes the results are crucial for preventing dementia and understanding the importance of eliminating vitamin D deficiency.
According to Prof. Hyppönen, vitamin D is a hormonal precursor that is becoming acknowledged for widespread impacts, such as on brain function, but it has been complicated what would happen if vitamin D insufficiency could be prevented. Their research is the first one to look at the impact of very low vitamin D levels on the risk of dementia & stroke in a large cohort using comprehensive genetic analyses. Given the increasing incidence of dementia across the world, the findings are extremely noteworthy, as reported by EurekAlert.