Vitamin D may help prevent dementia

Credit: Unsplash+

Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of developing dementia. However, the role of vitamin D supplementation in preventing dementia remains unclear.

In this prospective study, researchers aimed to explore the associations between vitamin D supplementation and incident dementia in a large cohort of 12,388 dementia-free individuals from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center dataset.

The Study

The team categorized participants into two groups based on their baseline exposure to vitamin D: D+ (exposed to vitamin D) and D- (no exposure prior to dementia onset).

They considered various factors such as age, sex, education, race, cognitive diagnosis, depression, and apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 genotype as covariates.

Sensitivity analyses were conducted to examine the effects of different vitamin D formulations.


Vitamin D supplementation was associated with significantly longer dementia-free survival and a lower incidence rate of dementia compared to no exposure (40% lower incidence rate).

Regardless of the vitamin D formulation used, the exposed group had a reduced risk of developing dementia.

The effect of vitamin D on dementia incidence rate varied across different subgroups. Females experienced greater benefits from vitamin D supplementation compared to males.

Moreover, individuals with normal cognition had a more pronounced reduction in dementia risk with vitamin D supplementation compared to those with mild cognitive impairment.

Additionally, participants who did not carry the APOE ε4 allele, a genetic risk factor for dementia, showed a greater response to vitamin D supplementation compared to carriers of the allele.


The findings of this study suggest that vitamin D supplementation may have potential as a preventive measure against dementia.

By strongly extending dementia-free survival and lowering the incidence rate of dementia, vitamin D supplementation shows promise as a preventive method.

Importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is known to play a crucial role in maintaining bone health and regulating calcium levels in the body. However, recent research has also highlighted its potential neuroprotective effects.

Vitamin D receptors are widely distributed in the brain, including regions associated with cognition and memory.

Vitamin D has been shown to modulate neurotrophic factors, reduce neuroinflammation, and regulate beta-amyloid protein, which is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.

Limitations and Further Research

While this study provides valuable insights, it is important to note its limitations.

The study design was observational, and therefore, a causal relationship between vitamin D supplementation and dementia prevention cannot be established.

Randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm these findings and determine the optimal dosage and duration of vitamin D supplementation.

Additionally, further research is required to understand the underlying mechanisms by which vitamin D may exert its neuroprotective effects.


This study suggests that vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of developing dementia.

The results demonstrate longer dementia-free survival and a lower incidence rate of dementia among individuals exposed to vitamin D.

Females, individuals with normal cognition, and those without the APOE ε4 allele appear to benefit more from vitamin D supplementation.

These findings highlight the potential of vitamin D as a preventive agent for dementia, although more research is needed to establish a causal link and determine optimal supplementation strategies.

The study was published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Copyright © 2023 Scientific Diet. All rights reserved.