Health & Wellness Resources


Vitamin D and Dementia

By: Cate McCarty, PhD, ADC


As the nation springs into a new season, are you aware that you may not be getting enough Vitamin D?

Many people are under the impression that Vitamin D comes naturally from the sun but fail to factor in how little sun exposure they get because of the seasonal change. Althea Zanecosky, RD and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association reports; The sun is not strong enough for the body to make Vitamin D from October to May, especially for those living north of Atlanta. In fact, half the people tested at the end of winter were low on Vitamin D according to research conducted by the University of Maine.1

The second most accessible source of Vitamin D is food. Common foods that contain Vitamin D are fish, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and foods fortified with added Vitamin D.2 As our seasons change, watching our diet for sufficient Vitamin D is a good health strategy.


Low Vitamin D levels are associated with grave health risks.  A study of Parkinson’s disease showed that lower levels of Vitamin D were associated with depression as well as lower scores on verbal fluency and memory.3   Vitamin D deficiency substantially increases the risk of all forms of dementia as well as Alzheimer’s disease. 4

In fact, low levels of Vitamin D in a study of nursing home residents showed a higher rate of falls and fractures.5 This study then looked at supplementing the residents’ diets with Vitamin D fortified bread.  A time and interaction affect showed cognitive improvement as well as more daily activity, more locomotion and less reported pain.

Similarly, a Swedish study of Vitamin D in nursing home residents showed deficiency was linked to higher mortality.

Regardless of your age, your health status, Vitamin D is an important component of good cognitive and physical health.


By-line:  Cate McCarty, PhD, ADC has been collaborating with Arden Courts in a variety of roles since the late 90’s.  Her background in nursing, activities and admissions has given her a passionate commitment to quality of life for the individual and family with dementia.  Cate is now personally caring for her spouse who has an FTD diagnosis.


1Patz, Aviva, Dec. 15, 2017, Surprising ways to get more Vitamin D,

2Top foods for calcium and Vitamin D,,

3Peterson, A.L., Murchison,C., Zabetian, C., Leverenz, J.B., et al. (2013). Memory, mood, and Vitamin D in persons with Parkinson’s disease, Journal of Parkinsons Disease, 3(4).

4Shen, L., Ji, H.F. (2015). Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia: evidence form meta-analysis, Nutrition Journal, 14:76.

Littlejohns, T.J., Henley, W.E., Lang, I.A., Annweiler, al. (2014). Vitamin D and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Neurology, 83(10): 920-928.

Schlogl, M. & Holick, M.F., (2014). Vitamin D and neurocognitive function, Clinical Interventions on Aging, 9: 559-568.

5Annweiler, C., (2016). Vitamin D in dementia prevention, Annals of New York Academic Science, 1367(1): 57-63.