Though many people associate vitamin d with its role in promoting bone health, it also plays an important part in immune and brain functioning. Â In fact, vitamin d has also been linked to protective roles in preventing autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes along with certain types of cancers.
From a dietary standpoint, primary sources of vitamin d include fatty fish along with fortified milk. Â For vegans, mushrooms are the only natural source of vitamin d aside from sunlight exposure.
Vitamin D, Learning and Memory?
There are vitamin d receptors throughout the brain which affect proteins involved with learning and memory, motor control, and possibly social functions as well. Â Previous research has linked vitamin D deficiency to global cognitive impairment in elderly women. Â Researchers from France recently published the results of a community survey which has explored the association between vitamin d intake and cognitive performance in older adults .
Results of this study were recently published in the November issue of the Journal of Neurology. Â The study itself included 5,596 community dwelling women who had an average age of 80.5.
The two groups were divided upon recruitment based on their baseline weekly vitamin d intake–those who consumed the recommended 35 Î¼g/wk and those who consumed an inadequate amount <35 Î¼g/wk.
For the purpose of this particular study, they defined ‘cognitive impairment’ as a Pfeiffer Short Portable Mental State Questionnaire (SPMSQ) score <8.
From the Study Authors:
“The main finding of this populationbasedstudy of 5,596 older women free of vitamin Ddrug supplements was that the weekly dietary intakeof vitamin D was significantly associated with theglobal cognitive performance in both linear and logisticregression models, even while considering theeffects of all potential confounders.”
The study authors conceded that it has yet to be confirmed as to whether or not this association is causal. For example, they noted that women with cognitive decline may simply eat a poorly. As such, they note that vitamin d deficiency may simply be a surrogate measure for other nutritional abnormalities.
Vitamin D’s Neuroprotective Effects
On the other hand, they note that vitamin D has potential neuroprotective effects. Other related research has shown an association between vitamin d deficiency and Alzheimer’s disease .
[box type=”important”]Either way, vitamin d deficiency is a measurable and modifiable risk factor for preventing potential cognitive decline.[/box]
- Neurology. 2010 Nov 16;75(20):1810-6.
- Neurology 2010;74:18â€“26.