Low Vitamin D May Affect Your Mood, Memory and More
Can getting adequate vitamin D prevent or reverse some mood and memory problems? The newest study, from the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis, suggests it may. In a study of 80 older healthy adults, half the group had mild cognitive impairment and half did not. The study found that in both groups, people with low blood levels of vitamin D were more likely to be diagnosed with poor mood (mild depressive symptoms such as lack of interest or indecisiveness) than people with adequate blood levels. And Vitamin D deficiency was also linked to poor performance on two tests designed to measure thinking skills like memory, judgment and problem-solving. (Wilkins, CH et al: Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2006; 14:1032-1040.)
More definitive research is needed, but for now, there are plenty of good reasons to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, such as stronger bones, reduced risk for falls, and protection against the development of colon, breast and prostate cancers. Some 25% to 54% of all adults over age 60 are low in vitamin D. Those who get less sun year round, like those in northern climates, are most likely to be deficient. Bundling up and using sunscreen also reduce your body’s ability to use the sun to make vitamin D.
Current research suggests that 500 IU of vitamin D daily may be enough throughout the year, but during winter, some may need 700 IU of D daily. If you’re concerned about not getting enough vitamin D, you can eat more fish and consume vitamin-D fortified foods, including milk. But supplements of vitamin D are the most reliable insurance, especially if you are not regularly exposed to sunlight.