Vitamin D probably does not help protect people from dementia or other brain-related disorders, the latest research finds.
While vitamin D is essential for the body, there is no solid clinical evidence that it benefits brain health.
Ms Krystal Iacopetta, the study’s first author, said:
“Our work counters an emerging belief held in some quarters suggesting that higher levels of vitamin D can impact positively on brain health.”
The results are based on a review of over 70 different studies.
There was no evidence vitamin D protected against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or other brain diseases.
Ms Iacopetta said:
“Past studies had found that patients with a neurodegenerative disease tended to have lower levels of vitamin D compared to healthy members of the population.
This led to the hypothesis that increasing vitamin D levels, either through more UV and sun exposure or by taking vitamin D supplements, could potentially have a positive impact.
A widely held community belief is that these supplements could reduce the risk of developing brain-related disorders or limit their progression.
The results of our in-depth review and an analysis of all the scientific literature however, indicates that this is not the case and that there is no convincing evidence supporting vitamin D as a protective agent for the brain.”
However, there may be evidence that sunlight is good for the brain.
Professor Mark Hutchinson, study co-author, explained:
“We have presented critical evidence that UV light may impact molecular processes in the brain in a manner that has absolutely nothing to do with vitamin D.
It may be that sensible and safe sun exposure is good for the brain and that there are new and exciting factors at play that we have yet to identify and measure.
Unfortunately however, it appears as if vitamin D, although essential for healthy living, is not going to be the miracle ‘sunshine tablet’ solution for brain-disorders that some were actively hoping for.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience (Iacopetta et al., 2018).