Vitamin D which is referred to as sunshine vitamin, since long has been associated with strong and healthy bones. It also benefits the immune system, endocrine system, and the cardiovascular system. But there is a lot more vitamin D works on rather than just the bones.
Insufficient Vitamin D levels lead to a compromised immune system, increases the risk of hypertension, and also raises the risk of type 2 diabetes.
A study published in a journal shows how vitamin D deficiency is related to the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s(1). Over the past years, low levels of this vitamin have been associated with brain-related disorders such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and even autism(2).
A normal range of 50ng/ml-80ng/ml of vitamin D should be maintained. Along with this a daily diet of 5000IU-8000IU of daily vitamin D in the meals is recommended for better absorption.
How Does Vitamin D Affect The Brain Health?
Vitamin D commonly and significantly impacts brain health. Mild cognitive decline and dementia are the common age-related cognitive decline and have been associated with low vitamin D levels in the body.
Certain cells in the brain have a receptor for vitamin D that keeps the brain healthy and functioning.
A study conducted in an animal model of Alzheimer’s diseases showed that vitamin D helped clear the brain of amyloid, a toxic protein which builds up and contributes to Alzheimer’s(3,4).
It supported neurogenesis i.e. formation of new and healthy brain cells. Vitamin D also protects against neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative disorders in the brain.
Vitamin D and Age-Related Cognitive Decline
Mild cognitive impairment is very common as the age advances. It is seen affecting roughly 15-20% of individual of 65 years of age and older(5). This increases the risk of dementia in these individuals.
Dementia contributes to the risk factors involved in the death in elderly and Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.
Vitamin D has been associated with the declining brain function and has been an addition in the risk factors associated with mild cognitive impairment and dementia. In fact, a study shows that risk of developing dementia is more in those with vitamin D deficiency(6) and those with high vitamin D levels have less cognitive impairment and better short term working memory.
Vitamin D levels are also linked with the structure of the brain. Higher levels of this vitamin are associated with more beneficial gray matter in older adults. Gray matter is a brain tissue where nerves are present and form the functional connections with the other cells such as in cerebral cortex which is a major region of the brain. Cerebral cortex controls cognition, new memory formation, and memory recall.
Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem. Vitamin D supports various brain functions and also protects against neurodegeneration.
Keep a check on the levels and if they are found low it is better to consult a doctor and start a supplement for the same. It should be noted that heavier people often need higher dose and absorption is much better if the vitamin is taken with a meal that contains fat.
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