Vitamins For Brain Health And Memory
Maintaining brain health is essential for optimal cognitive function, quality of life, and healthy aging. Cognitive impairment, which can impact individuals at any age, results in difficulty with processes such as language, memory, and judgment, affecting everyday life. Causes of cognitive decline such as brain injury may be outside of your control. However, other factors that cause cognitive issues may be addressed through dietary and lifestyle approaches, such as vitamin supplements for brain health.
Vitamin D: Benefits Dosage Information And Warnings
Vitamin D3 provides a range of health benefits, from bone health to immunity support. Learn more about its benefits, dosage information, and warnings.
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Vitamin D3 is an essential vitamin that your skin produces in response to sunlight exposure. It can also be consumed through a variety of animal and plant-sourced foods. Vitamin D3 is known to support bone health, but it also supports the immune system to protect you from environmental and seasonal threats.
With increased concerns over sun exposure, there has been an increase in vitamin D3 deficiency, which can affect immune function. Taking supplements of vitamin D3 helps you maintain healthy levels to support immune function, bone health, and overall health.
Remembered To Take Your Vitamins How Vitamin D Can Affect Your Brain
QBI Group Leader Associate Professor Thomas Burne studies brain development and behaviour, and recently published research linking vitamin D deficiency to to a range of cognitive disorders. Here he took questions from people across the world on his team’s latest discoveries.
Q: How does vitamin D help the brain?
A: Vitamin D is neuroprotective, regulates the immune system and helps with calcium balance. It is also involved with regulating many genes important for brain function. Although vitamin D is thought of as a vitamin, it acts as a neurosteroid and plays important roles in the brain.
Q: Are there populations that have higher rates of vitamin D deficiency due to seasonal lack of sun exposure or lack of fortified food? And is there a corresponding increase of cognitive disorders in those populations?
A: Great question! There is a clear variation in vitamin D levels around the world depending on latitude and season. There are many epidemiological studies showing an association between season and many brain disorders, including schizophrenia. People with darker skin in colder climates are much more likely to have sub-optimal vitamin D levels than people with lighter skin in colder climates.
Q: Did you provide the rats with vitamin D again after the 20 weeks of deficiency? And if so, did their ability to remember and learn go back to normal? Maybe vitamin D is a key factor in fighting Alzheimer’s?
And one for all you budding students …
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So What Is One To Do To Try To Prevent Dementia
The experts have put out many recommendations about lifestyle factors that can lead lower rates of dementia.These typically include things that comprise a generally healthy lifestyle such as regular exercise, a diet high in fruits, vegetable, whole grains and low in fat and sugar, moderate alcohol intake, good sleep habits. In addition, keeping your brain active with things like crossword puzzles, Sodoku and regular social interactions are also known to preserve to the continued firing of those brain cells.
However, many people would like to go beyond lifestyle changes to prevent memory loss. It is certainly worth considering what vitamins or supplements to take for memory loss and concentration. There is a great deal of research out there about many different vitamins for memory, with a just a few things showing some conclusive evidence that these vitamins prevent memory loss. They can in fact be a part of a custom all in one vitamin.
What Are The Best Vitamins For Dementia Patients 11 Vitamins Minerals And Herbs To Improve Well
Dementia is a general term which describes an overall decline in mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimers is the most well-known and most common type of dementia, although there are other less-common types of dementia.
While many people might accept that a decline in cognitive skills and memory is just part and parcel of the natural aging process, that isnt the case. Often, mental decline can be the result of small amounts of damage to the brain, which add up to noticeable mental impairments over time. And, while a dementia diagnosis can seem daunting, many people live well for years following their diagnosis.
In the hopes of preventing the onset and progression of dementia, people often turn to natural remedies, including vitamins. While the research isnt 100% in favor of any specific supplement or regimen, there are some vitamins and minerals that are said to offer cognitive benefits. Given that vitamin deficiencies can be a cause of dementia, it makes sense that supplementing is a popular alternative treatment choice.
Vitamins E and C
While vitamin D deficiency hasnt yet been found to be a direct cause of dementia, research shows there is a strong link between the two. Especially for those who dont live along the equator, supplementing with this essential vitamin may improve overall health and well-being. It also has benefits to the skeletal and cardiovascular system.
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Vitamin C And Brain Function
Vitamin C is an essential water-soluble vitamin that must be obtained from dietary sources as it cannot be produced by the body. Research has demonstrated various roles of vitamin C in the brain, which include supporting neurodevelopment, neurotransmitter function, angiogenesis , and antioxidant function. Additionally, vitamin C supports regeneration of other antioxidants, such as glutathione and vitamin E.
One review study that examined the relationship between vitamin C levels and cognitive performance in both healthy and cognitively impaired individuals found that the cognitively intact individuals had higher blood concentrations of vitamin C.
Vitamin D Holds ‘more Unknowns Than Knowns’ For Autoimmune Diseases
Gershwin ME. Vitamin D and Autoimmunity. Presented at: Congress of Clinical Rheumatology-West annual symposium October 8-11, 2020 .
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Vitamin D may be just one factor in the combination of bad genes and bad luck that causes autoimmune disease, according to a presenter at the 2020 Congress of Clinical Rheumatology-West.
There is evidence that vitamin D can affect the modulation and natural history of autoimmune diseases,M. Eric Gershwin, MD, chief of the division of rheumatology, allergy and clinical immunology at the University of California at Davis, said in his presentation. But just evidence, not proof.
M. Eric Gershwin, MD,
Gershwin explained why it is so difficult to make the leap from evidence to proof. Close to 1,000 human genes interact with vitamin D, he said. The immune system is so promiscuous.
Because of the myriad factors at play, it has only been in the last 10 years that the scientific community has begun to recognize that large populations of Americans are vitamin D deficient, and that this could be affecting autoimmunity.
M. Eric Gershwin
While the mechanism remains unknown, Gershwin suggested that impacts of vitamin D on Th-17 and Th-9 cells involved in adaptive immunity may be at play. In addition, vitamin D deficiency may inhibit memory B cell formation.
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Low Vitamin D = Low Mood
The lower your vitamin D, the more likely you are to experience the blues. A 2013 meta-analysis in the British Journal of Psychiatry looked at research involving a total of 31,424 people and found that having low levels of vitamin D increased the risk for depression. On the flip side, individuals with depressive disorders were more likely to have lower vitamin D levels. Vitamin D receptors are present in areas of the brain associated with depression, which researchers suggest may explain the connection.
Memory Supplements With Potential
Although there are a variety of “brain boosters” on the market — many chockfull of multiple substances — most are lacking research to support their memory-enhancing claims.
Ginkgo biloba is one that shows more promise than many others and is commonly used in Europe for a type of dementia resulting from reduced blood flow, Lausier says. “Ginkgo biloba tends to improve blood flow in small vessels.”
“A couple of meta-analyses and systematic reviews show that ginkgo biloba is helpful for dementia in about the same range as drugs being pushed very heavily to treat Alzheimer’s,” says Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, an associate professor in the complementary and alternative medicine Master’s program of the department of physiology and biophysics at Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Unfortunately, that’s not all that successful, she adds. Ginkgo doesnât seem to help prevent dementia. But in people who already have dementia, it may either improve symptoms or stabilize symptoms so that they donât get worse. In addition, some but not all studies show benefits in mood, alertness, and mental ability in healthy people who take ginkgo. More research needs to be done to be certain about these effects.
Here are a few other memory supplements that may also have some potential, but require much more study:
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Link Found Between Vitamin D Deficiency And Dementia
Link Found Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Dementia
December 10, 2018
Vitamin D is essential for good health in aging adults and may play a role in the prevention of diabetes, hypertension and multiple sclerosis.
A recent study has found that a vitamin D deficiency may also play a role in the development of dementia. Learn more about the link found between the deficiency and the disease.
Vitamin C Boosts Brain Cognition
Vitamin C helps fight more than just the common cold. Researchers at the National Institute of Integrative Medicine found a link between this brain-boosting vitamin and high levels of cognition in their 2017 study, which compared those with Alzheimers disease to a control group without memory conditions. In most cases, researchers observed a greater vitamin C deficiency in participants with Alzheimers. Specifically, vitamin C helps neurotransmitters in the brain function properly and regulates enzymes.
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Memory Enhancers That May Be Unsafe
Before adding any memory supplements to your diet, have a pharmacist check for potential interactions with any drugs or supplements you’re taking, advises Lausier.
“And, remember that ‘natural’ isn’t always safe,” she says. “When you think about nature, you often think of beautiful and harmless. But think about a lion and a wildebeest — that’s nature, too.”
- Bacopa. Used for millennia in India, bacopa is an Ayurvedic herb that shows some promise for memory problems, says Lausier. But it is an example of a memory supplement that carries a higher risk of drug interactions. For this reason, she doesn’t recommend using it until further study is conducted.
- DHEA. A hormone that declines with age, DHEA has garnered lots of interest. Taken long-term or in high doses, however, it may increase the risk for certain types of cancer, as well as other serious side effects.
As you evaluate other potential memory supplements, keep in mind that the FDA does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. It treats them like foods rather than medications. Unlike drug manufacturers, the makers of supplements donât have to show their products are safe or effective before selling them on the market.
This makes it harder for you to assess their strength, purity, and safety. Fugh-Berman advises doing your own research on effectiveness and adverse effects, using reliable, unbiased sources.
How To Increase Your Vitamin D Level
There are three main sources of vitamin D exposure to sunlight, foods, and supplements. Sun exposure is by far the best means of increasing vitamin D, but this has to be done in a safe way. Just 15 to 20 minutes per day in summer conditions is possible to generate approximately 10,000 international units of vitamin D. However, in countries at latitudes of 35 degrees or higher, such as the UK, the amount of UVB radiation in winter is too low for any vitamin D production.
There are trends connecting higher latitude and increased dementia risk in residents of the northern hemisphere, including Scotland and Scandinavian countries. In addition to location, your age, ethnicity and weight also affect vitamin D production.
Mature skin produces less vitamin D when exposed to sunshine because the mechanisms needed to synthesise vitamin D become less efficient over time. Darker skin types have higher levels of melanin which reduces the skin’s ability to synthesise vitamin D and requires longer exposure. Overweight individuals also produce less vitamin D when exposed to the same amount of sunlight. The reason for this is unknown, but it has been hypothesised that vitamin D may hide in fat cells.
The body regulates the amount of vitamin D synthesised by the skin, so it is not possible to produce too much. However, unprotected sun exposure can increase the risk of skin cancer so experts recommend a little and often approach.
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Vitamin D And Cognitive Decline: Neuroimaging Studies
Based on the available evidence from epidemiological studies it is plausible that vitamin D deficiency could be linked with pathological changes in the brain associated with neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular disorders . Furthermore, investigating the association between vitamin D concentrations and neuroimaging abnormalities could provide an insight into the potential mechanisms underlying the association with dementia-related disorders.
As reviewed above, two animal studies have examined the effect of vitamin D deficiency on the structural development of the brain. Compared to control rats born to vitamin D3 sufficient mothers, rats born to vitamin D3 deficient mothers had a 30% increase in hemisphere length, which suggests defected cortex development during embryogenesis . Moreover, vitamin D3 deficient pups had a 200% increase in lateral ventricle volume, which is indicative of atrophy in the surrounding regions. In a similar study, rats with transient vitamin D3 deficiency during early development demonstrated enlarged lateral ventricular volume in adulthood compared to control rats .
Table 2: Overview of cross-sectional neuroimaging studies investigating the association between vitamin D and neuroimaging outcomes in elderly adults
Is The Evidence Conclusive
There appears to be a compelling link between low vitamin D levels and later development of dementia, with severe vitamin D deficiency increasing the speed of mental decline by nearly three times the rate. Vitamin D deficiency may not be the cause of the dementia, but low levels may exacerbate the progression of brain disorders such as dementia once they begin.
There is also emerging evidence that vitamin D supplements may help to limit this progression. However, the association is only observational as studies have not been designed to prove cause and effect. Dr Llewellyn was keen to point out that “it’s too early to tell whether supplementation is going to help or not it might help and that’s why we need trials to dig into that.” He said “let’s do the research and see whether we can slow down the progression of dementia with supplements in trials.”
Until then, researchers do agree that blood vitamin D levels of 25nmol/L appear to be sufficient to protect against bone loss or rickets, while blood vitamin D levels of 50 to 75nmol/L are optimal to maintain healthy cognitive function.
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Can Vitamin D Reduce The Progression Of Cognitive Decline
A separate study published in JAMA Neurology in September 2015 found that participants diagnosed with dementia had a lower vitamin D average than those without dementia. The study involved 382 participants with an average age of 75.5 years, some of whom have dementia or cognitive decline, and others who were healthy. Blood tests were taken over five consecutive years to measure vitamin D levels and cognitive tests were used to evaluate episodic memory, semantic memory, visual perception and executive function.
At the end of the study period, findings showed that participants with lower vitamin D status had a greater decline in memory and cognitive ability. Lead researcher Dr. Joshua Miller of Rutgers University said those who had dementia also had lower vitamin D status than those who had mild cognitive impairment or who had normal cognitive functioning. He added that those low in vitamin D showed more short-term memory loss, as well as less ability to organize thoughts, prioritize tasks and make decisions. They were declining about two-and-a-half times faster than those who had adequate vitamin D.
Vitamin D And Brain Health: New Mechanism May Explain Link
New research finds that vitamin D deficiency affects a type of brain scaffolding that supports the neurons. This finding could lead to new therapies for the neurological symptoms of mental health conditions such as schizophrenia.
For instance, research has suggested that insufficient vitamin D may compromise the immune system, raise the risk of hypertension, and negatively affect insulin secretion in people with type 2 diabetes.
Newer studies have focused on the potential link between vitamin D and brain health. For example, a recent study that Medical News Today reported on reinforced the notion that there may be an association between vitamin D deficiency and a higher risk of schizophrenia.
Other studies have shown that depriving middle-aged rodents of vitamin D led them to develop brain damage and perform less well on cognitive tests. Researchers have also found that people who survive sudden cardiac arrest are less likely to recover brain function if they have low levels of vitamin D.
A new study delves deeper into this link between vitamin D and brain function to find a potential reason why the nutrient may be key to memory function.
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