Vitamin D and Memory Decline: Two Population-Based Prospective Studies

J Alzheimers Dis. 2016;50(4):1099-108. doi: 10.3233/JAD-150811.


Background: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with dementia risk, cognitive decline, and executive dysfunction. However, the association with memory remains largely unknown.

Objective: To investigate whether low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations are associated with memory decline.

Methods: We used data on 1,291 participants from the US Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) and 915 participants from the Dutch Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA) who were dementia-free at baseline, had valid vitamin D measurements, and follow-up memory assessments. The Benton Visual Retention Test (in the CHS) and Rey's Auditory Verbal Learning Test (in the LASA) were used to assess visual and verbal memory, respectively.

Results: In the CHS, those moderately and severely deficient in serum 25(OH)D changed -0.03 SD (95% CI: -0.06 to 0.01) and -0.10 SD (95% CI: -0.19 to -0.02) per year respectively in visual memory compared to those sufficient (p = 0.02). In the LASA, moderate and severe deficiency in serum 25(OH)D was associated with a mean change of 0.01 SD (95% CI: -0.01 to 0.02) and -0.01 SD (95% CI: -0.04 to 0.02) per year respectively in verbal memory compared to sufficiency (p = 0.34).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest an association between severe vitamin D deficiency and visual memory decline but no association with verbal memory decline. They warrant further investigation in prospective studies assessing different memory subtypes.

Keywords: Cognition; memory; prospective studies; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Memory Disorders / blood*
  • Memory Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology*


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D