Vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency are a major health care problem. The association between vitamin D levels and cognitive function is still under debate. We conducted a systematic review to assess the association between levels of vitamin D and cognition. Therefore, the databases of Embase and Pubmed were searched through June 2012 for observational studies relating vitamin D levels to cognition. Our initial search yielded 2182 articles. After applying exclusion criteria, there were 28 studies eligible for inclusion: 25 cross-sectional and 6 prospective studies (3 studies show cross-sectional as well as prospective data). The main finding of the 25 cross-sectional studies was a statistically significant worse outcome on one or more cognitive function tests or a higher frequency of dementia with lower vitamin D levels or intake in 18 out of 25 (72%) studies, whereas 7 (28%) studies failed to show an association. Four out of 6 (66.7%) prospective studies showed a higher risk of cognitive decline after a follow-up period of 4-7 years in participants with lower vitamin D levels at baseline. In conclusion, this review supports the hypothesis that hypovitaminosis D is associated with worse outcome on one or more cognitive function tests or a higher frequency of dementia in cross-sectional as well as prospective studies. Further studies should focus on the role of vitamin D supplementation in the prevention of cognitive decline in participants with low vitamin D levels.
Keywords: Cognition; Deficiency; Systematic review; Vitamin D.
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