Magnolia Health Care, Inc

2147 Hoffmeyer Road. Florence, SC 29501

(843) 662-8000

A Statement from Dr. Quaye

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. This is because unlike other vitamins, vitamin D is made in the skin under exposure to sunlight. It seems also that vitamin D’s profile has been going up lately because of the numerous reports from research findings about the wide range of health benefits of vitamin D. These days, I check almost all my patients for vitamin D levels, and make recommendations for vitamin D as a supplement. I explain to people that vitamin D has been shown to protect against three kinds of cancer; colon and breast in women, and colon and prostate in men. But the health benefits of vitamin D go beyond these cancer preventing benefits. There is increasing information about the many health benefits of vitamin D in the published literature. I will review and present one such report here about the role of vitamin D in slowing the progression of dementia.


Vitamin D has been known traditionally for its beneficial effects on bone formation, such that deficiency of vitamin D is associated with rickets and other bone disorders. More recently, vitamin D has been associated with beneficial effects on a wide range of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and obesity, cancer, vascular disease, osteoporosis, as well as immune function.


In today’s review, I want to focus on a research study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a medical journal published by the American Medical Association. The June 12, 2010 issue of The Archives published an article that suggests that vitamin D may help reduce the progression of Alzheimer's disease in elderly patients in the Tuscany region of Italy.


In this study, the researchers examined data from a research study conducted in the Italian region to determine the link between the progression of dementia and the levels of Vitamin D from blood samples taken during the study. They used the mini mental status exam (MMSE) and Trail-Making tests A and B to measure the progression of dementia. MMSE is a series of questions commonly used by doctors to measure a patient’s thinking and memory abilities. It is the standard way in which we determine and diagnose dementia. I am not familiar with the Trail-Making tests, but apparently, they are also used to measure and diagnose dementia.


The researchers then used complex statistical analysis to determine the link between vitamin D levels and patients score on the MMSE and Trails tests. The results of the study showed that individuals who were classified as deficient or severely deficient in vitamin D had lower scores on the tests measuring dementia at the start of the study. They were also older, and among other things, had no alcohol history. Over time, they also showed a faster rate of decline on these tests.


This is an interesting study. Vitamin D comes from the sun, and can be supplemented in the diet or taken as a tablet or capsule. The nuances of this study may be debated by experts in the medical field, but for our purposes, this is another reason to take vitamin D, so long as we stay within the doctor’s recommendations.


I hope this information is useful to you.


To your good health,


Emmanuel Quaye, MD

American Legion, Hartsville. Picture by Susan Reynolds, MD