Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vitamin D as Brain Food

New research suggests that eating fish – long considered ‘brain food’ – may be as good for the old grey matter as is a healthy dose of sunshine.

University of Manchester (UK) scientists, in collaboration with colleagues from other European centers, have shown that higher levels of vitamin D – primarily synthesized in the skin following sun exposure but also found in certain foods such as oily fish – are associated with improved cognitive function in middle-aged and older men.

Good news for us older guys who like to eat fish!

The researchers found that men with higher levels of vitamin D performed consistently better in a simple and sensitive neuropsychological test that assesses an individual’s attention and speed of information processing. The study was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, where the researchers compared the cognitive performance of more than 3,000 men aged 40 and up at eight test centers across Europe.

“Previous studies exploring the relationship between vitamin D and cognitive performance in adults have produced inconsistent findings but we observed a significant, independent association between a slower information processing speed and lower levels of vitamin D,” said lead author Dr David Lee, in Manchester.

The authors credit their large population sample and took into account potential interfering factors, such as depression, season and levels of physical activity. “Interestingly, the association between increased vitamin D and faster information processing was more significant in men aged over 60 years, although the biological reasons for this remain unclear.”


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