• Connection Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Decreased Brain Function

    by Gary Starkman
    on Feb 11th, 2017

Presented at the yearly meeting of the Acute Cardiovascular Care Association which is part of the European Society of Cardiology, this study has serious implications for health experts and patients alike. Levels of vitamin D are usually determined by a blood test. According to the National Institutes of Health, a person’s vitamin D levels are normal when they are 30-74 nanograms per milliliter.

How a vitamin D deficiency is defined varies according to different organizations. The Vitamin D Council Class considers 0-30 ng/mL a deficiency, while the Endocrine Society deems 0-20 ng/mL deficient, and the Food and Nutrition Board states 0-11 ng/mL is deficient. As many know, the sun’s rays are a main source of vitamin D, so a lack of sun exposure is often one of the main culprits behind the deficiency. Some other causes of it include a lack of vitamin D in the liver or diet, kidney disorders, and decreased food absorption. This deficiency is also connected with many different diseases.

Numerous studies have linked the vitamin D deficiency with a negative cancer prognosis and an increased risk of developing schizophrenia. In this study, the results of 53 unconscious patients were evaluated. 41 people had received CPR after being in cardiac arrest. The first heart rhythm that was monitored was shockable in 36 of them, but non-shockable in 17 of the patients.

Scientists then monitored their neurological results six months after being discharged. For the purposes of the study, scientists defined a vitamin D deficiency as below 10 ng/mL.

65% of the patients with a vitamin D deficiency had negative neurological results six months after being discharged. Those that had vitamin D levels that were considered normal only reported 23% with a negative neurological outcome. Patients with decreased brain functioning reported an average vitamin D level of 7.9 ng/mL, compared to those who had a positive neurological outcome and reported an average vitamin D level of 12.5 ng/mL. Overall, researchers reported that having a vitamin D deficiency and experiencing a cardiac arrest increased the risk of poor brain functioning seven-fold. In addition, six months after being discharged, 29% of patients that had a vitamin D deficiency were dead, while all of those with normal levels were alive. One of the head researchers of the study noted that “our findings suggest that vitamin D deficiency should be avoided, especially in people with a high risk of sudden cardiac arrest.”


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Author Gary Starkman Dr. Starkman, a top Neurologist in NYC, is the Medical Director and founder of New York Neurology Associates. He is Board Certified in Neurology with a subspecialty certification in Pain Medicine.

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