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2011 Grants - Llewellyn
Vitamin D and the Risk of Dementia in the Cardiovascular Health Study
David J. Llewellyn, Ph.D.
Peninsula Medical School
Universities of Exeter and Plymouth
Exeter, United Kingdom
2011 New Investigator Research Grant
Vitamin D has been shown to provide protection against a number of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Yet the therapeutic potential of vitamin D against Alzheimer's disease has not been sufficiently studied. A few research teams have found that low blood levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), an indicator of low vitamin D levels in the body, increases the risk of cognitive decline in older adults. But none of these efforts have examined the association between low 25(OH)D levels and the onset of dementia.
David J. Llewellyn, Ph.D., and colleagues hypothesize that low blood 25(OH)D levels can serve as a biomarker of Alzheimer's and other neurological disorders. They plan to test this theory by analyzing data from the Cardiovascular Heath Study, an extensive, long-term study of cardiovascular and brain health. Such data will include serum samples, brain scans and neurological test results from study participants, all of which were collected and administered over a period of several years. Some of these participants developed dementia while others did not. The researchers will use sophisticated statistical methods for their analyses. They hope to show that the people who developed dementia tended to have lower blood 25(OH)D levels than did the participants who remained cognitively healthy. The results of this effort could offer a novel and cost-effective method of reducing dementia risk. (Testing vitamin D levels in the blood is inexpensive, as are vitamin D dietary supplements.)