Recently, vitamin D has been a hot topic for The Optimist Daily. We’ve shared a lot of stories about this important vitamin, from how to figure out if your body needs more of it (spoiler: it probably does!) to debunking common myths about it.
So far, we’ve focused a lot on how vitamin D boosts our immunity and bodily health, however this time, we’re going to share how it benefits our cognitive functions.
Three ways vitamin D promotes cognitive function (and mood!)
It supports the health of our nervous system
Our brain houses a wide collection of receptors for various hormones, and it turns out that vitamin D is one of them. This is because vitamin D plays a big role in supporting our nervous system function and brain health.
According to this study, because of its impact on the production and release of neurotrophins (proteins needed for the development and survival of neurons), vitamin D has neuroprotective effects. Vitamin D also helps protect nervous tissues from oxidative stress and balances calcium levels in our blood and cells.
It helps maintain cognitive function as we age
As we get older, our cognitive functions start to get a bit fuzzier because of processes like oxidative stress and aging organs, however, according to assistant professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine Nicole Avena, Ph.D., vitamin D can fend off these effects.
A 2019 meta-analysis of vitamin D’s effects revealed a strong connection between vitamin D levels and age-related cognitive function. Plus, vitamin D receptors can be found in the area of the brain that forms new memories, “which may be compelling evidence that vitamin D is related to the proper creation of new memories,” Avena adds.
It provides mood support and promotes emotional well-being
Vitamin D’s role in regulating melatonin and serotonin (the two hormones intertwined with our mood) cannot be overstated, but on top of that, vitamin D also affects our gut health by promoting beneficial bacteria and boosting the health of our gut lining.