Vitamin D plays many important roles and one of them is supporting brain health. Unfortunately, over 40% of the US population is deficient in vitamin D. D deficiencies have been linked to lack of energy, low mood, mood swings and increased risk of developing memory loss.

Vitamin D Plays A Role In Regular Brain Function.

Evidence supports vitamin D’s role in normal brain function and cellular maintenance through reducing oxidative stress and inflammation; two known predecessors to memory loss (1). Vitamin D also aids in immune regulation and supports synaptic structure and function (1). Proper synaptic structure and function are vital for sending messages between our brain cells.

Studies Show An Important Relationship Between Vitamin D & Brain Health.

One study followed 1,658 people for nearly 6 years. It was found those with low vitamin D levels were 70 percent more likely to develop memory loss (2). It also found those who were “severely” vitamin D deficient were over 120 percent more likely to develop AD (2).

An additional study wanted to assess the effect of daily vitamin D supplementation on cognitive function. This study also evaluated the effect of vitamin D on amyloid-beta related markers in the body (those strongly associated with brain plaque which commonly occurs in memory loss). 210 patients with memory loss were randomly assigned to a placebo group or vitamin D group. At completion of the 12-month study, the vitamin D group showed significant improvement in amyloid-beta related markers, significant improvement in cognitive function testing and “significant increase in full scale IQ” (3).

Another study showed lower incidence of memory loss among women who consumed a diet high in vitamin D. At 7-year-follow-up those with high dietary vitamin D intake were shown to divide their risk of developing memory decline by five (4).

In a 2015 study, researchers found vitamin D supplementation seemed to cause significant improvements in the cognitive performance of subjects with memory loss at 3 and 6-month follow-ups (5).

References

1) Gold, J., Shoaib, A., Gorthy, G., & Grossberg, G. T. (2018). The role of vitamin D in cognitive disorders in older adults. US Neurology, 14(1), 41. https://doi.org/10.17925/usn.2018.14.1.41
2) Littlejohns, T. J., Henley, W. E., Lang, I. A., Annweiler, C., Beauchet, O., Chaves, P. H., Fried, L., Kestenbaum, B. R., Kuller, L. H., Langa, K. M., Lopez, O. L., Kos, K., Soni, M., & Llewellyn, D. J. (2014). Vitamin D and the risk of dementia and alzheimer disease. Neurology, 83(10), 920–928. https://doi.org/10.1212/wnl.0000000000000755
3) Jia, J., Hu, J., Huo, X., Miao, R., Zhang, Y., & Ma, F. (2019). Effects of vitamin D supplementation on cognitive function and blood AΒ-related biomarkers in older adults with alzheimer’s disease: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1136/jnnp-2018-320199
4) Annweiler, C., Rolland, Y., Schott, A. M., Blain, H., Vellas, B., Herrmann, F. R., & Beauchet, O. (2012). Higher vitamin D dietary intake is associated with lower risk of alzheimer’s disease: A 7-year follow-up. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 67(11), 1205–1211. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/gls107
5) Gangwar AK, Rawat A, Tiwari S, et al. Role of vitamin-D in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2015;59:94–9.