Vitamin D is a group of secosteroids that is primarily responsible for helping your body absorb minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphate. Approximately 40-75% of adults have a vitamin D deficiency, which is likely due to the fact that very few foods contain vitamin D. While this important vitamin can be absorbed through sunlight, the concerns of skin cancer often keep people out of the sun.
An international study recently monitored the health of over 1,600 seniors for 6 years and found that people who were extremely deficient in vitamin D had more than double the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than those who consistently had adequate levels of this vitamin in their system.
Participants in this study who had a mild deficiency had a 53% increased risk of developing dementia, while participants who were severely deficient had a 125% increased risk. This association was twice as strong as the researchers expected. However, researchers are hesitant to claim that a vitamin D deficiency leads to dementia. More research is needed to establish whether consuming enough of the vitamin can prevent, treat, or delay Alzheimer’s.
However, a recent study adds to the existing body of evidence that links a vitamin D deficiency with cognitive decline. Researchers evaluated 382 participants for five years to study the vitamin D levels in each participant. They found that those who had a diagnosis of dementia lower levels of vitamin D in their blood on average than the other groups. In another study, researchers found that people who used a vitamin D supplement typically had a lower rate of cognitive decline.
How to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels
Adults under the age of 70 are recommended to consume 600 IU/day of vitamin D, and those who are over 70 should increase their consumption of vitamin D to 800 IU/day. Adults require more vitamin D with age because they usually spend less time outside and therefore do not get the amount of vitamin D they should from the sun.The sun is a great source of vitamin D, however, there is also a concern about skin cancer risks, which makes people want to get their vitamin D from a different source. Some food sources that have vitamin D in them include:
- Milk (fortified with vitamin D)
- Beef liver
- Orange Juice
- Yogurt (fortified with vitamin D)
- Beef liver
- Cod liver oil
When you take the necessary steps to increase your levels and consumption of vitamin D, it is more than just your brain health that will improve. For example, vitamin D is important in many areas of your body and having a deficiency has been linked to problems such as macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, lupus, bowel diseases, and chronic cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, consuming a high amount of vitamin D is one of the best ways to prevent the flu and can also lower your risk for certain types of cancer. Vitamin D also improves heart health, as it encourages the production of nitric oxide. This molecule aids in the control of blood flow and helps to prevent blood clots from forming within the blood vessels. Also, vitamin D is able to reduce the oxidative stress in the vascular system, which can help prevent heart disease.
To keep your health at optimal levels, take a vitamin D supplement or eat a diet that is high in vitamin D. Not only will it protect your brain health, but it will also help your body in other ways.