Older people who have a severe vitamin D deficiency have an increased risk of developing dementia, a study has suggested.
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Vitamin D comes from foods - such as oily fish, supplements and exposing skin to sunlight. However older people's skin can be less efficient at converting sunlight into Vitamin D, making them more likely to be deficient and reliant on other sources.
UK researchers, writing in Neurology, followed about 1,650 people aged over 65 for six years. All were free from dementia, cardiovascular disease and stroke at the start of the study. At the end of the study they found the 1,169 with good levels of vitamin D had a one in 10 chance of developing dementia. Seventy were severely deficient - and they had around a one in five risk of dementia.
This is not the first study to suggest a link between vitamin D deficiency and dementia - but its authors say it is the largest and most robust. However, experts say it is still too early to say elderly people should take vitamin D as a preventative treatment.