Throughout the past 20 years, a lot of brain health research has focused on vitamin D and cognitive function. Through these studies, researchers have discovered that healthy levels of this essential fat-soluble micronutrient help transfer information between neurons, support cellular immune factors in the brain, and even protect the structure and function of neurons—which is especially vital as we age. The science is clear: Vitamin D is a key player when it comes to everyday function of the nervous system.
Vitamin D Sufficiency
While we know vitamin D deficiency is inversely related to brain health parameters, studies analyzing cogni
tive function in those who have achieved vitamin D sufficiency are few and far between. Thus, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health study explored the relationship between cognitive performance and vitamin D levels in healthy middle- to older-aged adults.
Women in the study had an average serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [i.e., 25(OH)D] level of 31 ng/ml while men averaged 34 ng/ml—both slightly above the clinical cutoff for vitamin D insufficiency of 30 ng/ml. All participants had 25(OH)D levels above 20 ng/ml (which is considered the cutoff for vitamin D deficiency) and were tested for these vitamin D levels and cognitive health and performance metrics throughout the study.
Women with sufficient levels of vitamin D had better global cognition (i.e., overall cognitive function) and longer attention spans/attention accuracy. Interestingly, improvement of attention accuracy plateaued around 25(OH)D levels of 32 ng/mL. In men, sufficient vitamin D levels were also associated with improved attention accuracy.
Sufficient vitamin D levels are associated with improved attention accuracy.
Thanks to the patterns of association between cognitive performance and vitamin D status, researchers determined that a dose-response relationship (i.e., increasing levels of the "sunshine vitamin" to help promote and preserve cognitive function) may exist—especially in women.
This data supports that maintaining vitamin D sufficiency throughout the lifespan is crucial to supporting brain health (and a host of other aspects of our health) now and as we age.
This important study adds to the ever-growing evidence that achieving (and maintaining) sufficient vitamin D levels supports multidimensional aspects of cognitive function and overall brain health. That being said, it's nearly impossible to get enough vitamin D from sunshine and food alone daily and throughout life. (That's where a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement comes in.)
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Article originally posted by mindbodygreen.com.