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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Vitamin D may reduce the risk of dominantly inherited Alzheimer’s disease

A recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine reported on a number of biomarker and behavior changes in dominantly inherited Alzheimer’s disease, and proposed that treatment and prevention trials could incorporate these pathophysiological changes to gauge the likelihood of future clinical success.1 Some of the changes noted were reduced glucose metabolism in the brain, amyloid-beta deposition in the brain, and increased cognitive impairment.

Colleagues and I suggested in a published commentary on this paper that raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations might be able to prevent or slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease.2 The evidence is outlined here.

Two studies found vitamin D reduced amyloid-beta in the brain.3, 4 One paper found a beneficial role of vitamin D for glucose transport and utilization in the brain.5 A recent longitudinal study found a significant increase in global cognitive impairment for women with low vs. high serum 25(OH)D concentrations.6  A recent review discussed the evidence that vitamin D reduces the risk of cognitive impairment.7

Additional evidence that vitamin D reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease is given in several other papers.8, 9

Thus, higher serum 25(OH)D concentrations may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Based on results from other studies, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations should be above 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/l) for optimal health.10


1.Bateman RJ, Xiong C, Benzinger TL, et al. Clinical and Biomarker Changes in Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Disease. N Engl J Med. 2012; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1202753

2. Grant WB, Mascitelli L, Goldstein MR. Vitamin D may reduce the risk of dominantly inherited Alzheimer’s disease. NEJM. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1202753#t=comments

3. Yu J, Gattoni-Celli M, Zhu H, et al. Vitamin D3-enriched diet correlates with a decrease of amyloid plaques in the brain of AβPP transgenic mice. J Alzheimers Dis. 2011;25:295-307.

4. Mizwicki MT, Menegaz D, Zhang J, et al. Genomic and nongenomic signaling induced by 1α,25(OH)2-vitamin D3 promotes the recovery of amyloid-β phagocytosis by Alzheimer’s disease macrophages. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;29:51-62.

5. Kumar PT, Antony S, Nandhu MS, et al. Vitamin D3 restores altered cholinergic and insulin receptor expression in the cerebral cortex and muscarinic M3 receptor expression in pancreatic islets of streptozotocin induced diabetic rats. J Nutr Biochem. 2011;22:418-25.

6. Slinin Y, Paudel M, Taylor BC, et al. Association Between Serum 25(OH) Vitamin D and the Risk of Cognitive Decline in Older Women. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 Mar 27. [Epub ahead of print]

7. Soni M, Kos K, Lang IA, et al. Vitamin D and cognitive function. Scand J Clin Lab Invest Suppl. 2012 Apr;243:79-82.

8. Wang L, Hara K, Van Baaren JM, et al. Vitamin D receptor and Alzheimer’s disease: a genetic and functional study. Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Aug;33(8):1844.e1-9.

9. Annweiler C, Rolland Y, Schott AM, et al. Higher Vitamin D Dietary Intake Is Associated With Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease: A 7-Year Follow-up. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 Apr 13. [Epub ahead of print]

10. Cannell JJ, Hollis BW, Zasloff M, Heaney RP. Diagnosis and treatment of vitamin D deficiency. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2008 Jan;9(1):107-18.

  About: Dr William Grant

Dr. William Grant is an epidemiologist and founder of the nonprofit organization Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center (SUNARC). He has written over 140 peer-reviewed articles and editorials on vitamin D and health. Dr. Grant is the Science Director of the Vitamin D Council and also serves on their Board. He holds a Ph.D. in Physics from UC Berkeley.

2 Responses to Vitamin D may reduce the risk of dominantly inherited Alzheimer’s disease

  1. Yes, vitamin D appears to be very good at dealing with Alzheimers
    Here is the summary of the Overview of Cognitive Decline at VitaminDWiki
    Summary of the Overview of Cognition and Vitamin D
    – FACT: Cognitive decline is associated with low vitamin D levels. 19X more likely if < 10 ng of vitamin D
    – FACT: Dementia is associated with low vitamin D levels.
    – FACT: Alzheimer's Disease is associated with low vitamin D levels. 4X less likely if less likely if high vitamin D
    – FACT: Every single risk factor listed for Alzheimer's Disease is also a risk factor for low vitamin D levels
    – FACT: Elderly have very low levels of vitamin D (at least 4 reasons)
    – FACT: Elderly cognition gets worse as the elderly vitamin D levels get even lower (while in senior homes)
    – OBSERVATION: Elderly who get more vitamin D increase their vitamin D levels
    – OBSERVATION: Reports of increased vitamin D levels result in improved cognition
    – OBSERVATION: Alzheimer's Disease has been seen to halt when vitamin D was added. – clinical trial needed.
    – OBSERVATION: Several vitamin D intervention clinical trials are underway to prove the above (double blind)
    – OBSERVATION: Several studies have shown a strong association of Alzheimer's Disease with a gene mutation which reduces vitamin D effectiveness
    – OBSERVATION: One study found 7 factors associated with Alzheimer's Disease. All 7 factors are also associated with low vitamin D
    – FACT: Vitamin D is very low cost and has very very few side effects
    – CONCLUSION: Everyone concerned about cognitive decline or Alzheimer's Disease should start taking vitamin D
    Details at http://is.gd/dcognition

    • Brant Cebulla says:

      Henry, how are you distinguishing between facts and observations? Are your observations not facts also and are your facts not observations, too?