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Higher Intake of Calcium and Vitamin D Linked With Brain Lesions in Older People

ition to its well-known function in bone health, calcium is important to the functioning of nerve and muscle cells. But when too much calcium is taken up into blood vessel walls, the calcium becomes incorporated into bone-like deposits that can lead to loss of elasticity and narrowing of the blood vessels. Vitamin D helps regulate calcium retention and activity, which may further enhance this arterial calcification. If blood vessels in the brain are affected, damage could lead to brain lesions.

'At this point,' says Dr. Payne, 'we do not know if high calcium and vitamin D intake are involved with the causation of brain lesions, but the study provides support to the growing number of researchers who are concerned about the effects of too much calcium, particularly among older adults, given the current emphasis on promoting high intakes of calcium and vitamin D.'

Dr. Payne and her colleagues are continuing to investigate the effect and significance of high calcium and vitamin D intakes on brain lesions, including possible causality, in older patients with and without late-life depression. This research was funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health. MRI brain scans of a person with lesions are available to reporters, courtesy of Duke Universitys Neuropsychiatric Imaging Research Laboratory.


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