New research from Europe suggests vitamin D, the "sunshine" vitamin, may boost cognitive function in middle-aged and older brains.
In this study, 3,133 men aged 40 to 70 from eight test centres had their blood levels of vitamin D record along with their scores on a standard pen and paper test for attention span, memory, and cognitive processing speed.
Men with higher blood levels of vitamin D performed consistently better in the simple test that measured attention and how fast the brain processes information. Men with lower blood levels of vitamin D were consistently slower on the cognitive performance test.
This association between vitamin D and processing speed was strongest in men aged 60 and older. No association between vitamin D and memory was found.
Though these findings are not causal, they add to growing evidence that vitamin D does more than keep bones healthy, say the European researchers. Receptors for vitamin D are widely distributed throughout the brain leading researchers to theorize on the possible link between vitamin D intake and brain function.
These findings coincide with a new research indicating that most Canadians have low levels of vitamin D. The same report found less than one per cent of men take vitamin D supplements.
The Canadian Cancer Society recommends 1,000 international units of vitamin D a day in fall and winter, and year round for those over 50 or with darker skin. Supplements are an important source of vitamin D as it's impossible to get the recommended amount from food alone.
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