Vitamin D: Vital for Cognition and Mood

weight lossVitamin D has a range of biological functions, and may be required for correct immunity, correct mineral homeostasis and mental function. Vitamin D deficiencies is increasingly being found to be widespread amongst the populations that live in developed countries. The poor vitamin D status of those living in developed countries and the associated increase in mental health problems, may therefore suggest that vitamin D deficiencies in these populations is contributing to mental decline. The relationship between vitamin D and both cognition and mood has been explored by researchers, and evidence suggests that poor vitamin D status may contribute to neurochemical changes. For example, in one study, researchers investigated the vitamin D status of a group of elderly subjects. The results of the study showed that 58 % of the population was deficient in vitamin D, and that deficiency was significantly associated with the presence of a mood disorder. In addition, those with poor vitamin D status had worse scores on cognitive tests.

vitamin D sunlight mood anxiety depression

The elderly may be particularly prone to vitamin D deficiency because multiple steps in the metabolism of vitamin D to its biologically active form are affected by ageing. The elderly are also more likely to have poor diets and less likely to expose their skin to the sun on a daily basis. Daily sunlight exposure is by far the best way to obtain adequate vitamin D.

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Wilkins, C. H., Sheline, Y. I., Roe, C. M., Birge, S. J. and Morris, J. C. 2006. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with low mood and worse cognitive performance in older adults. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 14(12): 1032-1040

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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