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Vitamin D

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Joannie Burstein Besser knows firsthand the devastation of Alzheimer's disease. Her uncle Robert has it.

"To see him decline because of his memory has been painful, I know for him and for all of us."

The 53-year old recently started taking Vitamin D supplements hoping it will keep her mind sharp. A large new study finds seniors with lower levels of vitamin D have a 53% increased risk of developing dementia… and a nearly 70% higher risk of developing Alzheimer's.

"Vitamin D receptors may help boost memory, it can also have an effect in reducing inflammation," says Dr. Zaldy Tan of UCLA Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Program.

The greatest source of Vitamin D is sun exposure. It is also found in foods such as salmon, tuna and milk.

Researchers say studies now need to be done to see if taking Vitamin D supplements or eating vitamin D rich foods can delay or even prevent dementia.

Dr. Zaldy Tan says the study isn't clear if low vitamin D levels actually cause cognitive loss or if it's the other way around.

"People with early memory problems, early undiagnosed Alzheimer's disease may be less likely to go out and be exposed to the sun."

With her family history, Joannie makes sure to take long walks outside and eats a diet rich in vitamin D.

"I want to do whatever I can to stop it from happening because it's important for us to have our minds and our memories."

The study also found the lower the levels of vitamin D, the higher the risk. Seniors who were severely deficient were 120% more likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer's than seniors with normal levels.
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