Skip to content

Journal Article

Vitamin D and cognitive function: a Mendelian randomisation study


Publication date

Oct 2017


The causal nature of the association between hypovitaminosis D and poor cognitive function in mid- to later-life is uncertain. Using a Mendelian randomisation(MR) approach, we examined the causal relationship between 25(OH)D and cognitive function. Data came from 172,349 participants from 17 cohorts. DHCR7(rs12785878), CYP2R1 rs12794714) and their combined synthesis score were chosen to proxy 25(OH)D. Cognitive tests were standardised into global and memory scores. Analyses were stratified by 25(OH)D tertiles, sex and age. Random effects meta-analyses assessed associations between 25(OH)D and cognitive function. Associations of serum 25(OH)D with global and memory-related cognitive function were non-linear (lower cognitive scores for both low and high 25(OH)D, pcurvature ≤ 0.006), with much of the curvature attributed to a single study. DHCR7, CYP2R1, and the synthesis score were associated with small reductions in 25(OH)D per vitamin D-decreasing allele. However, coefficients for associations with global or memory-related cognitive function were non-significant and in opposing directions for DHCR7 and CYP2R1, with no overall association observed for the synthesis score. Coefficients for the synthesis score and global and memory cognition were similar when stratified by 25(OH)D tertiles, sex and age. We found no evidence for serum 25(OH)D concentration as a causal factor for cognitive performance in mid- to later life.

Published in

Scientific Reports


7: 13230





Older People, Psychology, Science And Technology, Health, Life Course Analysis, and Genetics


Open Access; This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit


Research home

Research home


Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest