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New Study Finds Vitamin D Sufficiency Is Tied To Key Cognitive Health Factors*

Image by Viktor Solomin / Stocksy
January 21, 2022

Due to the location of vitamin D receptors (VDR) throughout the nervous system1, researchers have known vitamin D has an impact on cognitive function, working memory, and even mood for over a decade now.* However, many studies are conducted in individuals with vitamin D deficiency (which includes almost one-third of U.S. adults, for the record), rather than people with sufficient vitamin D levels. A recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health2 wanted to see if there is a positive correlation between cognitive function and sufficient vitamin D levels in healthy aging adults, instead.* 

Vitamin D and cognitive function.

Throughout the past 20 years, a lot of brain health research has focused on vitamin D and cognitive function3. Through these studies, researchers have discovered that healthy levels of this essential fat-soluble micronutrient help transfer information between neurons4, support cellular immune factors in the brain, and even protect the structure and function of neurons—which is especially vital as we age.* The science is clear: Vitamin D is a key player when it comes to everyday function of the nervous system.* 

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Testing brain health in vitamin D sufficiency.

While we know vitamin D deficiency is inversely related to brain health parameters, studies analyzing cognitive function in those who have achieved vitamin D sufficiency are few and far between. Thus, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health study explored the relationship between cognitive performance and vitamin D levels in healthy middle- to older-aged adults. 

Women in the study had an average serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [i.e., 25(OH)D] level of 31 ng/ml while men averaged 34 ng/ml—both slightly above the clinical cutoff for vitamin D insufficiency of 30 ng/ml. All participants had 25(OH)D levels above 20 ng/ml (which is considered the cutoff for vitamin D deficiency) and were tested for these vitamin D levels and cognitive health and performance metrics throughout the study.

The results. 

Women with increased (i.e., sufficient) levels of vitamin D had better global cognition (i.e., overall cognitive function) and longer attention spans, aka attention accuracy.* Interestingly, improvement of attention accuracy plateaued around 25(OH)D levels of 32 ng/mL. In men, sufficient vitamin D levels were also associated with improved attention accuracy.* 

Thanks to the patterns of association between cognitive performance and vitamin D status, researchers determined that a dose-response relationship (i.e., increasing levels of the "sunshine vitamin" to help promote and preserve cognitive function) may exist—especially in women.* 

This data supports what mindbodygreen already knew to be true: maintaining vitamin D sufficiency throughout the lifespan is crucial to supporting brain health (and a host of other aspects of our health) now and as we age.* 

The takeaway. 

This important study adds to the ever-growing evidence that achieving (and maintaining) sufficient vitamin D levels supports multidimensional aspects of cognitive function and overall brain health.* That being said, it's nearly impossible to get enough vitamin D from sunshine and food alone daily and throughout life. (That's where a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement comes in.*) 

mindbodygreen's vitamin D3 potency+ is a high-potency, science-backed daily dose of vitamin D3 (the most bioavailable form of vitamin D) that is expertly designed to promote vitamin D sufficiency for life.* This dynamic D formula delivers 5,000 I.U. of sustainable, organic algal vitamin D3 and features built-in absorption technology (via a trio of organic olive, avocado, and flaxseed oils) in just one daily gelcap, making the journey to a lifetime of vitamin D sufficiency as easy as possible.*

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.