Study Finds Low Vitamin D Levels Tied to Brain Damage
Vitamin D, which is most often acquired via exposure to the sun, is an essential vitamin that promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphate in the intestines. Vitamin D helps with bone growth and prevents the bones from becoming thin and brittle. In a new study, researchers found that a lack of vitamin D could also contribute to brain damage.
For this study, researchers from the University of Kentucky used mouse models to examine the effects of eating a diet low in vitamin D. The rats were all middle-aged and were given a diet low in vitamin D for a few months. The researchers then analyzed the brains of the rats and found that they had free radical damage. The team found that vitamin D-deficient rats had lower scores on tests that measured cognitive performance, learning and memory.
"Given that vitamin D deficiency is especially widespread among the elderly, we investigated how during aging from middle-age to old-age how low vitamin D affected the oxidative status of the brain," said lead author Allan Butterfield, professor in the UK Department of Chemistry, director of the Center of Membrane Sciences, faculty of Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, and director of the Free Radical Biology in Cancer Core of the Markey Cancer Center.
He added, according to Medical Xpress, "Adequate vitamin D serum levels are necessary to prevent free radical damage in brain and subsequent deleterious consequences."
The researchers of this study stated that taking vitamin D supplements, especially for seniors, could greatly affect cognitive functions. Butterfield stressed the importance for people to consult their physicians and get their vitamin D levels tested. If the tests reveal low levels, people should eat more foods with Vitamin D, get more exposure to sunlight or take supplements. Previous studies have tied vitamin D to Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common form of dementia.
The study, "Dietary vitamin D deficiency in rats from middle to old age leads to elevated tyrosine nitration and proteomics changes in levels of key proteins in brain: Implications for low vitamin D-dependent age-related cognitive decline," was published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine.