More good news about vitamins and brain function has turned up in a study reported on by the Montreal Gazette. In a story titled, "Vitamin D may boost cognitive function in older brains," a study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry was examined.
The research focused on more than 3,000 European men and the levels of vitamin D found in their blood. With a simple test using pen and paper, the researchers found that the men with higher levels of vitamin D performed consistently better when tested on their attention to the task and the speed at which their brain processed information than those with lower levels of the vitamin.
The study didn't prove "cause and effect." However, the information gathered showed a strong correlation between brain function (speed of processing) and vitamin D. This study was about processing speed and didn't test memory.
Vitamin D, called for decades the sunshine vitamin since our bodies produce vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun, has long been known to be important for overall health. Milk has been fortified with the vitamin since the 1940s. This fortification dramatically reduced the rate of juvenile rickets (the softening and weakening of bones) in the northern climates where people don't have their skin exposed to sun for much of the year. Foods that naturally contain vitamin D are quite rare, oily fish such as salmon being one of the few sources.
When examining the data collected from the study, researchers took into consideration alcohol consumption, education, physical activity and other factors in determining the outcome of the work. Vitamin D still seemed to be a factor in the performance of the test subjects.
How do we get enough vitamin D? For most of us it will be through supplements. People living in southern climates won't have as large a need, but with vitamin D showing promise in studies focusing on prevention of cancer, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and auto-immune disease, this vitamin is getting a lot of attention. The article also mentions that animal studies suggest "that vitamin D has a protective effect on neurons and may regulate the production of certain neurotransmitters."
Once more we are given evidence that there are steps we can take to stay healthy. Taking vitamin D isn't going to guarantee that we won't get dementia. But with evidence so strong that it our bodies need higher amounts of many vitamins than once recommended, we can go to our doctors and ask what is best for our age and health issues. We don't have to wait for a decade to begin protecting ourselves. We can do it now.
Published On: May 28, 2009