Dementia care specialists in Plano, Texas know that until scientists discover a cure for this debilitating disease, the best treatments are those that slow the progression of dementia. Much of the ongoing research in this area focuses on living healthier lifestyles (modifying diet and increasing exercise). Recent studies have shown these changes do have a moderate positive effect which can be measured through the brain health testing. An exciting new dementia care study out of China suggests that increasing Vitamin D levels could have an even bigger effect.
The Importance of Vitamin D
Elder care professionals in Texas have long understood that Vitamin D is essential for the proper absorption of Calcium and phosphorus. However, Vitamin D has also been linked to the prevention of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. This new research shows that maintaining proper Vitamin D levels may be essential for brain health as well.
The Chinese Dementia Care Study
For two years researchers tracked the lifestyles and brain health of 1,200 elderly Chinese individuals (60 years old or older). At the beginning of the study they had their baseline Vitamin D levels and cognitive functioning tested. Two years later those levels were tested again.
Researchers found that elderly individuals who had the lowest Vitamin D levels were more than twice as likely to exhibit reduced cognitive function—declines in brain health. Additionally, that same group was more than three times as likely to have developed significant cognitive impairment due to dementia.
Vitamin D Deficiency is Common in Elderly Individuals
This is scary news because elder care professionals in Texas already know that older individuals are at significantly higher risk of Vitamin D Deficiency. This essential nutrient comes from diet and is produced by the body when our skin is exposed to natural sunlight. Older individuals often suffer because decrease appetite or the inability to prepare healthy meals for themselves. Also, as we age and mobility becomes more difficult—even hazardous—we’re less likely to spend time outside in the sun.
When both of these factors combine they create the perfect recipe for vitamin deficiency.
How to Get More Vitamin D
The best sources of Vitamin D are natural: proper diet and sunshine. Dementia care professionals in Texas recommend consuming more Vitamin D enhanced milk, fresh vegetables, and certain types of fish (like salmon and tuna). Also, spending roughly 15 minutes per day in direct sunlight (with exposed skin) is sufficient to naturally boost Vitamin D levels.
If neither is an option, Vitamin D supplements can be used as a last resort to bring levels to the recommended 600 IUs per adult under 70 years old and 800 IUs for those over 70.
If you’d like to learn more about dementia care services in Plano, Texas and the surrounding area, contact the caring professionals at Second Family Home Care. Call (972) 347-0700 today.