Friday, January 13, 2012

Vitamin D Deficiency and Brain Health: Vitamin D To Improve Brain Activity

As per a recent study report, intake of Vitamin D can improve brain activity and brain functioning in later part of life. Cognitive performance of over 3000 Europeans between the age group of 40-79 years was compared with the level of Vitamin D using tests to evaluate mental agility. It was observed that lower levels of Vitamin D was associated with poor brain health and reduced brain functions. All the other variables including education level, depression, physical activity and physical performance were considered during the assessment. Though the study was not able to identify the actual reason for the association between Vitamin D and mental functions, the study contributed significantly to the understanding for management of conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Vitamin D is crucial in
Improving Brain Functions
What is Vitamin D? Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D is a fat soluble pro-hormone, which plays the primary function of improving metabolism and absorption of calcium in the body.
Vitamin D also regulates the absorption and metabolism of Phosphrous in the body. Vitamin D is naturally synthesized in skin which only requires sunlight exposure. However as per the National Health and Nutrition Survey, it has been observed that more than 7 million children across the United States suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, while another 50 million children have insufficient quantity of Vitamin D.
Deficiency of Vitamin D is associated with Rickets in children and Osteomalacia in adults, both conditions characterized by poor calcification of bone matrix which in turn results in softening of bones, increased risk of fractures, and swelling of joints and limited range of motion. However there are other important functions that Vitamin D performs which include,
  • It helps strengthen the immune system and contributes towards protection against common disorders like flu and common cold. It is also considered beneficial in improving symptoms of autoimmune conditions like Asthma and Multiple Sclerosis
  • Improves mental functions and mental agility in later part of life. Lower levels of Vitamin D were linked with poor brain power in later part of life. 
  • Helps maintain optimum body weight and prevents obesity. Vitamin D deficiency was linked with increase in weight especially due to altered metabolism
  • Vitamin D deficiency increased the risk of development of rheumatoid arthritis 
  • Vitamin D for Better Brain
    Health during Old Age
  • Considered to have a protective action against DNA damage caused due to low levels of radiation. As per reports Vitamin D deficiency was consistently observed in all cancer patients treated in the United States, irrespective of their nutritional status.
Foods with Vitamin D: Vitamin for Better Brain Health

Though the exact action of Vitamin D on improving brain health is not clearly understood, it is believed that the hormone has an action on the neurons of the brain which in turn improve mental and cognitive functions. Though adequate exposure to sunlight is considered adequate for the production of Vitamin D in the body, sunbathing and undue sun exposure is not recommended as it is linked with skin cancer.
Vitamin D supplements are often recommended in individuals with Vitamin D deficiency; however there are certain foods that can improve Vitamin D levels in the body,
  • Fish liver oil especially cod liver oil and cold water fish like herring and salmon are considered to be a good source of Vitamin D
  • Egg Yolk is also considered to be loaded with Vitamin D
  • Dairy products including Milk, Cheese and Butter are also good sources of Vitamin D. However consuming low fat milk can reduce the availability of Vitamin D through these sources.
Improve Brain Activity: Lifestyle tips to Enhance Brain Power

Here are some simple life style tips to help enhance brain functions,
  • Keep yourself physically active. Physical activity and mental agility are closely linked with each other. Physical activity ensures that the neurons and the nerves are actively involved in transmission of information across the brain, which in turn keeps the brain active and improves brain functioning. 
  • Solve some puzzles. Solving simple crossword puzzles or Sudoku can help in sharpening the brain and its intellect and keep it agile and active for longer 
  • Sleep Well. Inadequate sleep especially in patients with insomnia can increase the risk of irritability and also result in deteriorated brain functions. Getting adequate sleep now, will keep your brain active and agile during old age. 
  • Stop smoking and avoid alcohol. Both these foods interfere with normal metabolism, pass through the blood brain barrier and can cause damage to the brain cells.
Diet to Improve Brain Health: Vitamin D and Other Foods for Brain Powder

Though Vitamin D is considered to play a crucial role in improving brain functions, especially in the later part of life, there are a host of other dietary suggestions that can improve brain functioning and overall mental health.
As per a study conducted by Gomez, California University, Los Angeles, who analyzed more than 160 different studies, found that a diet rich in fish, nuts like walnuts and fresh fruits like Kiwi fruit is considered to be beneficial to improve brain power. These foods contain Omega-3 essential fatty acids which help in the management of other brain conditions like Dementia, Schizophrenia and Depression.
Also avoiding refined foods, junk foods, etc is necessary to improve brain power since these foods interfere with brain synapses and result in memory disorders.


  1. Cod liver oil provides vitamin D that helps build strong bones in children and helps prevent osteoporosis in adults. The fatty acids in cod liver oil are also very important for the development of the brain and nervous system. "If you want to prevent learning disabilities in your children," said David Horrobin, distinguished medical and biochemical researcher, "feed them cod liver oil."
    Cod Liver Oil

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