Aging Options

Study Shows Low Vitamin D Levels Can Affect Cognitive Decline

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In our quest to maximize our quality of life, we all want to avoid becoming a burden to our loved ones as we age. That’s one reason cognitive decline is so difficult for seniors and their loved ones: as our ability to think clearly diminishes, so does our ability to live independently.

According to a recent article at the National Public Radio website, a new study has just revealed what appears to be a link between cognitive decline and low levels of Vitamin D. The study group was racially diverse, and most participants were in their 70’s when they began being evaluated. Overall, those with levels of Vitamin D that were considered inadequate lost certain types of memory function more quickly than those with higher levels of the vitamin. You can click on this link (Vitamin D Study) to read the article.

Many participants in the study began with Vitamin D levels that were already below recommended levels. As the study suggests, this may be because seniors tend to get less sunshine, and the light from the sun helps trigger the natural production of Vitamin D.

Of course, if low levels of Vitamin D seem to relate to cognitive decline, the big question is, “Do Vitamin D supplements help?” The study’s lead author, Dr. Joshua Miller of Rutgers University, responded with caution. Nevertheless, as the article said, “You don’t have to be a professor to think it couldn’t hurt” – as long as seniors consult with their doctors before adding or reducing any supplements.

At our frequent Life Planning Seminars, we provide solid advice concerning the health care needs of retirees. After all, one of the best ways to avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones is to take charge of your own health care choices as you age. Our strong recommendation is that seniors should utilize the services of a geriatrician (or geriatric physician) as a key member of their health care team. Click here to read an article from our website about the type of health care team we suggest for those who want to stay as healthy as they can, for as long as they can.

(Originally published at www.npr.org)

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