Vitamin D and brain health

Vitamin D and Brain Health

Research indicates that individuals experiencing cognitive decline exhibit improved brain health with increased levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, such as bolstering the immune system and maintaining bone health. It can be obtained from dietary sources like fatty fish and fortified beverages (e.g., milk or orange juice), and also through brief exposure to sunlight.

Lead author Kyla Shea, a scientist on the Vitamin K Team and associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts, notes that while numerous studies have linked dietary or nutritional factors to cognitive function in older adults, including studies on vitamin D, they have primarily relied on dietary intakes or blood measures. The research aimed to investigate the presence of vitamin D in the brain and its potential association with cognitive decline.

Examining brain tissue samples from 209 participants in the Rush Memory and Aging Project, researchers found vitamin D present in various brain regions, with higher levels correlating with better cognitive function. However, vitamin D levels in the brain did not correspond with established physiological markers of Alzheimer’s disease, leaving unanswered questions regarding its precise impact on brain function.

Shea emphasizes the multifaceted nature of dementia and the need for further exploration into the potential neuropathological connections of vitamin D in the brain. Additionally, the study's reliance on a predominantly white participant pool prompts plans for future research involving more diverse subjects to explore additional brain changes linked to cognitive decline.

While the findings suggest a potential link between vitamin D and cognitive health, caution is advised against excessive vitamin D supplementation, as it may lead to harm and increased risk of falling. The research, supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging and the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, underscores the need for continued investigation into the role of vitamin D in dementia prevention.

For more information, refer to the published paper, which provides comprehensive details on authors, funders, and conflicts of interest. The views expressed in the content are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the National Institutes of Health or the US Department of Agriculture.

Source: Tufts University Original Study DOI: 10.1002/alz.12836

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