Doctors and researchers have said before that there are number of health benefits associated with getting enough vitamin D in your system. Now a new study has confirmed that being deficient in vitamin D can increase your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s as you age.

The report, partially funded by the Alzheimer’s Association, examined the results of more than 1,600 elderly adults. All participants were 65 or older and able to walk unaided. At the start of the study, the subjects were also free from dementia, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Researchers followed the participants for six years to see which of them developed Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

Dr. David Llewellyn of the University of Exeter Medical School and the study's lead researcher said, “We expected to find an association between low vitamin D levels and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but the results were surprising. We actually found that the association was twice as strong as we anticipated.”

It turned out that elderly adults in the study who had a moderate vitamin D deficiency had a 53 percent higher chance of developing dementia; those who were severely deficient had a 125 percent higher risk. The results were similar for Alzheimer’s disease. Those with moderate deficiency saw an increased risk of Alzheimer’s of 69 percent, and the severely vitamin D deficient group had a 122 percent increased risk of developing the disease.

Good habits such as 10 minutes of unprotected sun time a day, a diet rich in certain types of fish, or adding a dietary supplement with an appropriate amount of vitamin D can help reduce your risk of developing these issues later in life.

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