Nutrients help brain function in old and young

Vitamin D in older adults

Doctors know that low levels of vitamin D impair the form and function of the brain but wanted to understand how quickly these changes take place.  In this study, doctors measured vitamin D levels in 382 men and women of white, African-American, and Hispanic ethnicities, average age 75. About half the participants had normal brain function, one-third were mildly impaired, and just under one in five had a diagnosis of dementia.

Over five years of follow-up, those who were deficient in vitamin D at the start of the study saw cognitive declines two to three times faster than those who began with adequate levels of vitamin D. Discussing the findings, doctors said, “We expected to see declines in those with low levels of vitamin D, but were surprised how profoundly and rapidly low levels of vitamin D impact cognition.”

Vitamin B12 and school performance

Earlier studies revealed a link between vitamin B12 and memory, reasoning, and intelligence in school- aged children. In this study, doctors measured vitamin B12, iron, and other micronutrient levels in 3,156 children, aged 5 to 12, and attending public schools.

Children who were deficient in vitamin B12 were almost two-and-a- half times as likely to repeat a grade as children with adequate vitamin B12 levels. In addition, kids with vitamin B12 deficiency had nearly twice the rate of absences from school compared to those with adequate vitamin B12 levels. Doctors noted vitamin B12 also plays a role in immunity, and that vitamin B12 supplements might improve school attendance rates.

Reference: JAMA Neurology; September, 2015, Published Online

Natural Insights for Well Being January 2016

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