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Neuroepidemiology. 2011;37(3-4):249-58. doi: 10.1159/000334177. Epub 2011 Dec 7.

Vitamin D-mentia: randomized clinical trials should be the next step.

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Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Angers University Hospital, Angers University Memory Center, UPRES EA 2646, University of Angers, UNAM, Angers, France.


Hypovitaminosis D is highly prevalent in the elderly. Its possible role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is particularly important, as AD remains a public health concern with no current efficient treatment. Vitamin D administration could be a multitarget stabilizing treatment for AD since vitamin D simultaneously targets several factors leading to neurodegeneration through immunoregulatory, antioxidant and anti-ischemic actions, as well as the regulation of neurotrophic factors, acetylcholine neurotransmitter and clearance of amyloid beta peptide, and the avoidance of hyperparathyroidism. By preventing neuronal loss, the question is whether correcting hypovitaminosis D among older adults could also prevent AD-related cognitive decline. The cross-sectional associations between the vitamin D intakes--whether from diet, sun exposure or drug supplements--and cognition strengthened this hypothesis, but prevented the finding of a cause and effect link. Pre-post studies showed an improvement of cognition concomitant with the increase in 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations. One randomized trial found that supraphysiological doses of vitamin D were not better than physiological doses at improving cognition in AD. At this stage, only clinical trials testing vitamin D supplements versus placebo can further determine the impact of vitamin D administration on cognition and AD with higher levels of evidence.

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