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The Importance of Vitamin D to Brain Health

by Richard A Reagan

More and more research today is discovering the incredible importance of vitamin D to overall health. Whether it’s in protecting the heart and muscles, strengthening bones, or increasing testosterone, vitamin D almost seems to be a wonder drug. Adequate levels of vitamin D are crucial to maintaining good health, while deficiency in vitamin D has been implicated in numerous health risks.

Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin because it can be naturally produced in human beings through exposure to sunlight. As little as half an hour of exposure to the sun during summertime can be enough to produce more than enough vitamin D for the average light-skinned person. Unfortunately, a society that now operates almost exclusively indoors has minimized the amount of sun exposure that most people receive. The resulting lack of vitamin D production has led to widespread vitamin D deficiency among many populations.

Now new research has indicated that vitamin D may play a role in proper brain health too. In particular, vitamin D deficiency may be correlated with a higher risk of schizophrenia. Other studies have indicated that those who suffer sudden heart attacks have a much lower chance of retaining proper brain function if they have low vitamin D levels. But how exactly low vitamin D levels lead to impaired brain function hasn’t been fully understood.

Research in mice has discovered that mice purposely deprived of vitamin D are less able to remember things and learn new things than mice that take in enough vitamin D. Researchers believe that vitamin D helps to strengthen the connections between neurons in the brain, as vitamin D-deprived mice have weaker connections.

If research in human subjects comes to the same conclusion then it could open up new avenues to combat mental disorders and cognitive ailments such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Even if the exact method by which vitamin D protects brain health isn’t fully understood, given all the positive benefits of vitamin D there’s no reason not to start supplementing with it.

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