Most individuals are aware that vitamin D is necessary for a healthy, strong skeleton. But you may not be aware that vitamin D is also necessary for a healthy brain. One way to aid in preventing dementia is to make sure that your body is optimized for vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps to regulate the immune system by suppressing inflammation.
Recent research has shown that dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s Disease, is associated with an inflammatory response. That is, Alzheimer’s Disease [AD] is an autoimmune disease where the immune system overreacts to normal cells by viewing those normal cells as invaders and activating the immune response to fight and destroy those cells.
This could also explain why AD is more prevalent in women than in men since women are more susceptible to many types of autoimmune diseases than are men.
As it happens, vitamin D moderates the immune system and has been shown to be effective in lowering the risk of contracting autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and autoimmune thyroid disease.
Two different research studies (one at Tufts University and the other at Brigham and Women’s Hospital) were published in 2022 that showed the vitamin D supplementation had a positive effect on brain health. Both studies showed a reduced incidence of AD in those individuals who took vitamin D supplements.
Karen Costenbader, senior author of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study, recommends that women 55 and older and men 50 and older take 2000 IU/day of vitamin D supplementation.
Kyla Shea, an author of the Tufts’ study, is much more conservative in her recommendation of 600 IU/day up to age 70 and then 800 IU/day for those who are older than 70.
Frankly, I think Shea’s recommendations are far too low. Only individuals who have extremely low blood levels of vitamin D will show any improvement at 600 or 800 IU/day of vitamin D supplementation.
Extensive research has shown that supplementation up to 10,000 IU/day is safe. To maintain optimal blood levels of vitamin D (25 OHD) between 40 and 60 ng/ml (100 -150 nmol/l), recent research has shown that daily intake of vitamin D must be in excess of 5000 IU/day. If an individual is overweight or obese, they will need at least 10,000 IU/day.
Vitamin D receptors are present on nearly all cells in our bodies. Therefore, sub-optimal levels of vitamin D are associated with a wide variety of health problems including autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular function, cancers, musculo-skeletal issues, and, as has now been shown, dementia.
During the summer months, I take 2000 IU/day of supplemental vitamin D which I gradually increase to 5000 IU/day during the winter months. But after reading these articles, and, given my age, I plan to increase my baseline intake to 5000 IU/day rising to 7000 IU/day during the winter months.
Vitamin D supplementation is an easy, relatively inexpensive way to optimize your health and protect your brain.