Low Vitamin D and Its Association with Cognitive Impairment and Dementia

J Aging Res. 2020 Apr 30;2020:6097820. doi: 10.1155/2020/6097820. eCollection 2020.


Vitamin D is a neurosteroid hormone that regulates neurotransmitters and neurotrophins. It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties. It increases neurotrophic factors such as nerve growth factor which further promotes brain health. Moreover, it is also helpful in the prevention of amyloid accumulation and promotes amyloid clearance. Emerging evidence suggests its role in the reduction of Alzheimer's disease hallmarks such as amyloid-beta and phosphorylated tau. Many preclinical studies have supported the hypothesis that vitamin D leads to attentional, behavioral problems and cognitive impairment. Cross-sectional studies have consistently found that vitamin D levels are significantly low in individuals with Alzheimer's disease and cognitive impairment compared to healthy adults. Longitudinal studies and meta-analysis have also exhibited an association of low vitamin D with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. Despite such evidence, the causal association cannot be sufficiently answered. In contrast to observational studies, findings from interventional studies have produced mixed results on the role of vitamin D supplementation in the prevention and treatment of cognitive impairment and dementia. The biggest issue of the existing RCTs is their small sample size, lack of consensus over the dose, and age of initiation of vitamin D supplements to prevent cognitive impairment. Therefore, there is a need for large double-blind randomized control trials to assess the benefits of vitamin D supplementation in the prevention and treatment of cognitive impairment.

Publication types

  • Review