Background: Vitamin D has a neuroprotective function, potentially important for the prevention of cognitive decline. Prospective studies from Western countries support an association between lower vitamin D level and future cognitive decline in elderly people. No prospective study has examined this association in Asia.
Methods: This community-based cohort study of elderly people in China follows 1,202 cognitively intact adults aged ≥60 years for a mean duration of 2 years. Plasma vitamin D level was measured at the baseline. Cognitive state of participants was assessed using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). Cognitive impairment was defined as an MMSE score <18. Cognitive decline was defined as ≥3 points decline from baseline. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to examine the association between quartiles of vitamin D levels with cognitive decline and incidence of cognitive impairment.
Results: Participants with low vitamin D level had an increased risk of cognitive decline. Compared with the highest quartile of vitamin D levels, the multivariable odds ratios (ORs; 95% confidence interval) for cognitive decline were 2.1 (1.3-3.4) for the second highest quartile, 2.2 (1.4-3.6) for the third highest quartile, and 2.0 (1.2-3.3) for the lowest quartile. The multivariable ORs of incident cognitive impairment for the second highest, third highest, and lowest versus highest quartiles of vitamin D levels were 1.9 (0.9-4.1), 2.6 (1.2-5.6), and 3.2 (1.5-6.6), respectively.
Conclusions: This first follow-up study of elderly people, including the oldest-old, in Asia shows that low vitamin D levels were associated with increased risk of subsequent cognitive decline and impairment.
Keywords: Chinese elderly people; Cognitive decline; Cognitive impairment; Follow-up study; Vitamin D.
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