Vitamin D Deficiency Causes Cognitive Decline
Vitamin D has long been hailed as one of the most important nutrients to maintain good bone health. A new study published this week suggests your bones aren’t the only part of the body to benefit, though; vitamin D plays a big role in our brain health, too. Researchers discovered a link between Vitamin D deficiency and cognition problems.
Vitamin D Deficiency and Cognitive Decline
Researchers at the University of Kentucky conducted a study to examine the effect that a diet deficient in vitamin D has on the brain. Vitamin D deficiency has frequently been linked to a number of different health conditions and this study looked to examine the connection.
Rats who were fed a diet low in vitamin D for several months developed free radical damage to the brain, which the researchers attributed to lack of the vitamin. The rats also performed poorly on cognitive tests, demonstrating the impaired brain function recognized within the brain.
The researchers in charge of the study also discovered high levels of specific proteins that can cause neurological stress in the brain, indicating the development of cognitive decline. Diseases like Alzheimer’s are often caused by a buildup of certain proteins in the brain, a condition similar to what was found in the brains of the rats.
A Common Problem
Vitamin D deficiency affects an estimated 1 billion people across the world and is especially common in the elderly and individuals who spend all of their time inside. The current recommendations for adults up to age 69 is 600 IU/day and for adults starting at age 70 is 800 IU/day.
Vitamin D vitamins are quite difficult to get from your diet, as few foods besides fatty fish and eggs contain them, and only in small amounts, according to the National Institutes of Health. Some foods like breakfast cereals and milks are fortified with vitamin D to help increase the amount we consume, but it’s still difficult to get all the Vitamin D you need from food.
For those who don’t spend much time outside and may have low levels, Vitamin D supplements are often recommended. Spending time out in the sun every day helps increase your production of Vitamin D, but you shouldn’t spend too long out there so you don’t burn your skin or put yourself at risk of skin cancer.
Increase Your Intake
To increase your vitamin D exposure, do your best to spend small amounts of time in the sunshine every day. Sun block reduces vitamin D absorption by more than 90% if applied correctly, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, which explains why even people who spent their days in the sun may still be deficient. It’s best to let the sun shine on your bare skin just for a short while.
The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays trigger the body’s process of manufacturing its own vitamin D, and in places with higher latitudes where these rays are weak, more time in the sun might be necessary to absorb the recommended amount.
Vitamin D also helps the body absorb calcium, so the two deficiencies often go hand in hand. To better protect your brain and your bones from the effects of a vitamin D deficiency, put in some effort each day to increase your vitamin D exposure and keep your brain functioning at full capacity with a strong body to match!