Studies: 3 Ways Vitamin D Helps Your Brain Function

Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for your body yet despite it being obtainable from the sun, studies suggest over 1/3 of people are still deficient (1).  According to the National Institutes for Health (2), the average adult male and female should aim for about 600 IU (15 micrograms) of vitamin D daily. Vitamin D can be obtained by spending time in the sun, eating more fish and vitamin D fortified foods such as dairy products, or taking a daily supplement. Whichever way you absorb Vitamin D, multiple studies indicate that you are not only supporting stronger bones, but also a stronger brain:

Vitamin D may help problem-solving*

Researchers at Tufts University (3) looked at a sample of 1080 elderly participants and compared their performance in cognitive tests to vitamin D levels and found that most scores increased as vitamin D levels increased. These tests included the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), which is a 30 point test that assesses recall, language, and attention skills. Participants with higher vitamin D levels also did better on trail-making tests that examine visual attention and processing speed by requiring you to connect-the-dots with labels in a certain order.

Vitamin D may decrease impulsivity*

Vitamin D may also help you maintain concentration. In an animal study (4) that examined decision making of rats, scientists from the University of Queensland found that vitamin D deficient rats seemed less attentive and more susceptible to incorrect decisions. These rats were presented with targets on which they had to make a choice, either accept or reject, in order to receive a treat. The rats that were vitamin D deficient had both more impulsive and wrong responses compared to healthy rats.

Vitamin D can have a role in decreasing cognitive impairment*

Researchers at the University of Cambridge (5) examined vitamin D status and cognitive function in a selection of 1766 adults from a health survey and discovered that low levels of vitamin D were associated with increased odds of being cognitively impaired. All these adults were interviewed and tested using the Abbreviated Mental Test, which asked 10 questions on general memory and awareness. Patients were then split into four groups based on varying vitamin D levels and their scores were assessed. The groups with lower vitamin D concentration had the biggest risk of receiving scores on the AMT below 7, indicating cognitive impairment.

When it comes to supplementing Vitamin D, all forms are not created equal. Check your supplement facts to ensure your Vitamin D is in the form of Cholecalciferol (or Vitamin D3) as this most absorbable and active form of Vitamin D.

Learn more about why vitamin D is such an incredibly important nutrient for your brain health:

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References:

1.  CDC NCHS Data Brief No. 59  March 2011
2. NIH Vitamin D Fact Sheets 
3.  Vitamin D is associated with cognitive function in elders receiving home health services. Buess JS et al. , J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2009 Aug;64(8):888-95. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glp032. Epub 2009 Apr 17.
4.  Cognitive performance and response inhibition in developmentally vitamin D (DVD)-deficient rats., Turner KM et al. , Behav Brain Res. 2013 Apr 1;242:47-53. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2012.12.029. Epub 2012 Dec 27.
5.  Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration and cognitive impairmentLlewellyn DJ et al., J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2009 Sep;22(3):188-95. doi: 10.1177/0891988708327888. Epub 2008 Dec 10.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These statements and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.