Methods: One thousand six hundred fifty-eight elderly ambulatory adults free from dementia, cardiovascular disease, and stroke who participated in the US population–based Cardiovascular Health Study between 1992–1993 and 1999 were included. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations were determined by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry from blood samples collected in 1992–1993. Incident all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease status were assessed during follow-up using National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke/Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association criteria.
Results: During a mean follow-up of 5.6 years, 171 participants developed all-cause dementia, including 102 cases of Alzheimer disease. Using Cox proportional hazards models, the multivariate adjusted hazard ratios (95% confidence interval [CI]) for incident all-cause dementia in participants who were severely 25(OH)D deficient (<25 nmol/L) and deficient (?25 to <50 nmol/L) were 2.25 (95% CI: 1.23–4.13) and 1.53 (95% CI: 1.06–2.21) compared to participants with sufficient concentrations (?50 nmol/L). The multivariate adjusted hazard ratios for incident Alzheimer disease in participants who were severely 25(OH)D deficient and deficient compared to participants with sufficient concentrations were 2.22 (95% CI: 1.02–4.83) and 1.69 (95% CI: 1.06–2.69). In multivariate adjusted penalized smoothing spline plots, the risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease markedly increased below a threshold of 50 nmol/L.
Conclusion: Our results confirm that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease. This adds to the ongoing debate about the role of vitamin D in nonskeletal conditions.