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Vitamin D Shows Positive Results for Mental Function

Lee Swanson Research Update

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Increased intake of the sunshine vitamin may slow age-related loss in mental function, according to a new study.

The study adds to an ever-growing body of science supporting the benefits of maintaining healthy vitamin D levels. In adults, it is said vitamin D deficiency may precipitate or exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fractures, common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases. There is also some evidence that the vitamin may reduce the incidence of several types of cancer and type-1 diabetes.

The current study, which followed 3,113 European men aged between 40 and 79, found that higher blood levels of vitamin D were associated with better performance in tests of attention and speed of information processing.

Results of the European Male Ageing Study (EMAS) are published online in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

"Previous studies exploring the relationship between vitamin D and cognitive performance in adults have produced inconsistent findings but we observed a significant, independent association between a slower information processing speed and lower levels of vitamin D," said lead author Dr. David Lee, from Manchester's School of Translational Medicine.

"The main strengths of our study are that it is based on a large population sample and took into account potential interfering factors, such as depression, season and levels of physical activity. Interestingly, the association between increased vitamin D and faster information processing was more significant in men aged over 60 years, although the biological reasons for this remain unclear."

Dr. Lee said that further study should focus on how the vitamin may improve brain function, but the findings "certainly raise questions about its potential benefit for minimizing ageing-related declines in cognitive performance."

Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry Published online ahead of print.

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