Vitamin D deficiency and depression increases young-onset dementia, study finds

Early-onset dementia is linked to various common health issues including Vitamin D deficiency and depression, a new study has found.

Contrary to the belief that genetics singularly drive this condition, the research challenges this notion.

With approximately 70,000 individuals estimated to be living with early-onset dementia in the UK, the study underscores the significance of addressing identified factors to potentially mitigate the risk.

This condition manifests with dementia symptoms emerging before the age of 65, and the study suggests that targeted interventions may play a crucial role in risk reduction.

A compilation of 15 factors, similar to those associated with late-onset dementia, encompasses elements such as alcohol abuse, stroke, social isolation, and hearing impairment. Notably, individuals with a higher level of formal education demonstrated a reduced risk.

Read more: Older people could slash their risk of dementia by owning a pet – new study

Dr Janice Ranson, one of the study’s authors, emphasised that the research “breaks new ground” and could potentially usher in a transformative era for interventions aimed at minimising new cases.

While memory loss is the most prevalent symptom of dementia, other indicators include alterations in behaviour and disorientation in familiar surroundings.

Young-onset dementia occurs when dementia manifests before the age of 65, and as of 2022, approximately 70,000 individuals are believed to be living with this condition in the UK.

The recent study, carried out by scientists from the UK and the Netherlands, stands as the “largest and most robust study of its kind ever conducted”, one of it’s authors, Professor David Llewellyn, told BBC.

Analysing data from over 350,000 individuals under the age of 65 across the UK, the study holds significant promise in shedding light on factors influencing the risk of young-onset dementia.

Professor Llewellyn emphasised that while there is still much to uncover, the study “reveals that we may be able to take action to reduce risk of this debilitating condition”.

“This pioneering study shines important and much-needed light on factors that can influence the risk of young-onset dementia.”

Dr Stevie Hendricks, a researcher at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, highlighted the severe implications of young-onset dementia.

The expert outlined: “Young-onset dementia has a very serious impact, because the people affected usually still have a job, children and a busy life.

“The cause is often assumed to be genetic, but for many people we don’t actually know exactly what the cause is. This is why we also wanted to investigate other risk factors in this study.”

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