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Vitamin D supplementation and cognition-Results from analyses of the D-Health trial

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 16:32 authored by Pham, H, Waterhouse, M, Rahman, S, Baxter, C, Duarte Romero, B, McLeod, DSA, Armstrong, BK, Ebeling, PR, English, DR, Hartel, G, Kimlin, MG, O'Connell, RL, van der Pols, JC, Alison VennAlison Venn, Webb, PM, Whiteman, DC, Almeida, OP, Neale, RE

Background: Observational studies have consistently found a link between low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration and higher risk of cognitive impairment. Results from randomized controlled trials have been mixed, and few have been conducted in the general population.

Methods: We recruited 21,315 community-dwelling Australians aged between 60 and 84 years to participate in the D-Health Trial, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The intervention was monthly oral doses of 60,000 international units of vitamin D or placebo for 5 years. We assessed cognitive function in a randomly sampled group of participants aged ≥70 years using the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS) at 2 and 5 years after randomization. The primary outcome for this analysis was TICS score; the secondary outcome was the proportion of people who had cognitive impairment (defined as TICS score ≤25). We analyzed data using mixed models (linear and logistic).

Results: We interviewed 3887 participants at year 2 and 3614 participants at year 5. The mean TICS score at these time points was 32.3 and 32.2, respectively. Vitamin D supplementation did not affect cognitive function as measured by TICS score (mean difference between vitamin D and placebo groups 0.04; 95% CI -0.14 to 0.23), or alter risk of cognitive impairment (odds ratio 1.00; 95% CI 0.75 to 1.33).

Conclusions: Monthly bolus doses of vitamin D supplementation neither enhanced nor hindered cognitive function among older adults. Population-wide vitamin D supplementation of older adults that are largely vitamin D replete is unlikely to substantially benefit cognition.


Publication title

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society






Menzies Institute for Medical Research


Blackwell Publishing Inc

Place of publication

350 Main St, Malden, USA, Ma, 02148

Rights statement

© 2023 The American Geriatrics Society.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Prevention of human diseases and conditions; Health related to ageing

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