November 12, 2013
One of the hallmark signs of brain disease is the formation of amyloid plaque. Think of this like gunk which can interfere with the brains processing ability. Amyloid plaque is not just formed in the brain, however, but is involved in other diseases such Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis among others. Although amyloid plaque formation is a common finding in the elderly, increased plaque formation can lead to neurophysical degeneration. One of the mechanisms to get rid of these plaques is through macrophages, immune cells that scavenge and get rid of debris in the body. In a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, scientists isolated macrophages from patients with Alzheimer’s disease and incubated them with amyloid plaque, adding vitamin D to some of the samples. The samples with the added vitamin D had an increased clearing rate of the amyloid plaques compared to those without the vitamin D. This suggests that adequate vitamin D levels may improve the removal of amyloid plaque potentially decreasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have found an incidence of vitamin D deficiency in those with Alzheimer’s disease compared to those without the disease.
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Low serum vitamin D concentrations in Alzheimer's disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Alzheimers Dis. 2013;33(3):659-74.