December 3, 2012 – Over recent years the importance of vitamin D has gained a lot of attention. Although many of us are aware of the importance of vitamin D for maintaining strong bones far fewer of us realize other critical ways that it helps the human body. Vitamin D helps muscles to move, nerves to carry messages around the body, and your immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses (1). Now the latest research is indicating that vitamin D may be a key component in preserving women’s mental health as they age.
The Gerontological Society of America just reported on two studies being published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.
In one study led by Cedric Annweiler, M.D., Ph.D., at the Angers University Hospital in France data was collected from 498 community dwelling women. Examination of the subset of women who developed Alzheimer’s disease revealed that these women took in lower levels of vitamin D as compared to the other women who developed other forms of dementia or none at all (2).
The other study that was reported also found results between vitamin D and cognitive impairment. Yelena Slinin, M.D., M.S., at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis led a research team that analyzed data on 6,257 community dwelling older women. The women who started out with very low levels of vitamin D were more likely to show global cognitive impairment. Further, cognitively impaired women with low vitamin D levels “…were associated with a higher risk of incident global cognitive decline…” (2).
These studies go a long way in demonstrating the importance of monitoring one’s vitamin D levels, especially as we age. If you discover that your vitamin D levels are too low there are a number of methods to bolster your vitamin D intake.
To start, it is interesting to note that vitamin D doesn’t naturally occur in many foods (1). However, many foods these days have vitamin D added (e.g., sometimes orange juice). Also, the sun can provide your body with vitamin D. Of course, too much sun can increase your risk for skin cancer so it is probably best to avoid this method to increase your vitamin D. Also, there are plenty of dietary supplements with vitamin D. However, you want to be careful as it is possible to consume too much vitamin D.
Yours in Good Health,
Alan Marc, Ph.D