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Alzheimer’s linked to low vitamin D levels

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Scientists at London’s Kingston University have uncovered evidence that lack of a particular form of vitamin D is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The Kingston team worked closely with researchers from Brighton and Sussex Medical School and the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation.

The research compared test results from those not being treated with any drugs to those from people on medication and a third group who did not have any sign of Alzheimer’s.

Lead researcher Professor Declan Naughton, from Kingston University’s School of Life Sciences, said the results had revealed some important facts. Alzheimer’s patients who were not using medication had very poor stores of vitamin D2 – the type originating from food such as oily fish, rather than that obtained from exposure to the sun. “The vitamin was either non-existent or in such low quantities that it could barely be measured,” he explained. “In comparison, people in the study who were either being treated with drugs to control their Alzheimer’s or who didn’t have the condition at all showed far higher levels.”

In a further twist, the scientists found indications that Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors – used to treat the early stages of Alzheimer’s – might play a role in actually “switching on” the body’s absorption of vitamin D2.

“There are several different types of vitamin D that can be active in the body,” Professor Naughton commented, explaining that vitamin D2 is the storage form principally drived from eggs and oily fish.

“The key point in this study was that a blood test, which we developed at Kingston University, was for the first time able to accurately measure which, if any, of the different variations of vitamin D were present in Alzheimer’s patients.”

Vitamin D is not strictly a vitamin, but acts more like a hormone. Vitamin D3, the active form has been shown repeatedly in research to help reduce the risk of many chronic illnesses from cancer to cardiovascular disease, stroke and even diabetes. The authors concluded “Most people associate vitamin D with exposure to the sun. The idea that a lack of the storage form originating from foods such as oily fish and egg yolks might be implicated in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s definitely merits further research.”

Ref: http://www.kingston.ac.uk/news/article/709/08-nov-2012-vitamin-d2-could-hold-vital-key-to-arresting-development-of-alzheimers-disease/