Background: Vitamin D deficiency has potential adverse effects on neurocognitive health and subcortical function. However, no studies have examined the association between vitamin D status, dementia, and cranial MRI indicators of cerebrovascular disease (CVD).
Methods: Cross-sectional investigation of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], dementia, and MRI measures of CVD in elders receiving home care (aged 65-99 years) from 2003 to 2007.
Results: Among 318 participants, the mean age was 73.5 +/- 8.1 years, 231 (72.6%) were women, and 109 (34.3%) were black. 25(OH)D concentrations were deficient (<10 ng/mL) in 14.5% and insufficient (10-20 ng/mL) in 44.3% of participants. There were 76 participants (23.9%) with dementia, 41 of which were classified as probable AD. Mean 25(OH)D concentrations were lower in subjects with dementia (16.8 vs 20.0 ng/mL, p < 0.01). There was a higher prevalence of dementia among participants with 25(OH)D insufficiency (< or =20 ng/mL) (30.5% vs 14.5%, p < 0.01). 25(OH)D deficiency was associated with increased white matter hyperintensity volume (4.9 vs 2.9 mL, p < 0.01), grade (3.0 vs 2.2, p = 0.04), and prevalence of large vessel infarcts (10.1% vs 6.9%, p < 0.01). After adjustment for age, race, sex, body mass index, and education, 25(OH)D insufficiency (< or =20 ng/mL) was associated with more than twice the odds of all-cause dementia (odds ratio [OR] = 2.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2-4.2), Alzheimer disease (OR = 2.5, 95% CI 1.1-6.1), and stroke (with and without dementia symptoms) (OR = 2.0, 95% CI 1.0-4.0).
Conclusions: Vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency was associated with all-cause dementia, Alzheimer disease, stroke (with and without dementia symptoms), and MRI indicators of cerebrovascular disease. These findings suggest a potential vasculoprotective role of vitamin D.