Background: Cognitive decline in older adults is a serious public health problem today. Association between vitamin D supplementation and cognition remains controversial.
Objective: To determine whether a 12-month vitamin D supplementation improves cognitive function in elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and whether it is mediated through the mechanism in which telomere length (TL) regulate oxidative stress.
Methods: This was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in Tianjin, China. Participants were all native Chinese speakers aged 65 years and older with MCI. 183 subjects were randomized to an intervention group (vitamin D 800 IU/day, n = 93) or a placebo group (the matching starch granules, n = 90), and followed up for 12 months. Tests of cognitive function and mechanism-related biomarkers were evaluated at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months.
Results: Repeated-measures ANOVA showed substantial improvements in the full scale intelligence quotient (FSIQ), information, digit span, vocabulary, block design, and picture arrangement scores in the vitamin D group over the placebo group (p < 0.001). Leukocyte TL was significantly higher, while serum 8-OXO-dG, OGG1mRNA, and P16INK4amRNA revealed greater decreases in the vitamin D group over the placebo group (p < 0.001). According to mixed-model repeated-measures ANOVA analysis, vitamin D group showed a significant enhancement in the FSIQ score for 12 months compared with the control (estimate value = 5.132, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Vitamin D supplementation for 12 months appears to improve cognitive function through reducing oxidative stress regulated by increased TL in order adults with MCI. Vitamin D may be a promising public health strategy to prevent cognitive decline.
Keywords: Cognitive performance; oxidative stress; telomere; vitamin D.