Vitamin D Deficiency Has Some Predictive Power for Cognitive Decline in the Elderly


Over a 4-year period, elderly men and women were about 1.3 times more likely to experience a “clinically significant” decline in their cognitive abilities if they were suffering from an insufficiency or deficiency in Vitamin D, according to a study in Neurology.

The research was part of the Progetto Veneto Anziani, a study following 1,927 elderly Italians. Vitamin D levels were measured at the beginning of the study along with cognitive function using the Mini-Mental State Examination. Then both were measured four years later. “(S)cores lower than 24 were indicative of cognitive dysfunction, and a decline of 3 or more points on the MMSE over the follow-up was considered as clinically significant,” they wrote. “Analyses were adjusted for relevant confounders, including health and performance status.”

The researchers found that elderly people with a Vitamin D “deficiency” (<50 nmol/L) or "insufficiency" (50–75 nmol/L) "were more likely to have declining MMSE scores during the follow-up than those who were 25OHD sufficient (≥75 nmol/L)." Those with a deficiency were 1.36 times more likely to experience significant cognitive decline and those with an insufficiency were 1.29 times more likely to experience a decline compared to people with sufficient levels. (Abstract) Vitamin D deficiency predicts cognitive decline in older men and women (Toffanello, Elena D. et al. Neurology. Published online before print November 5, 2014. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001080)


  1. Correlation does not prove causality. Maybe folks who appear D deficient are already sick and, as yet, undiagnosed. Maybe this “apparent” deficiency is not the cause of illness but rather another symptom. Does feeding them mega-doses of D, force-feeding us all D in milk, bread, flour, etc. affect the outcome long term? Now, there’s a study I’d like to see.

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