You risk cognitive impairment if you are deficient in this vitamin
Vitamin D deficiency has long been associated with osteoporosis. Recent research now shows that those with Vitamin D deficiency may have a much higher incidence of cognitive impairment than those with normal Vitamin D levels.
I apparently am one of the unlucky ones that do not convert Vitamin D from food and sunlight easily. Less that 10ng/mL is considered severe and could be associated with rickets. 10-25 is considered moderate deficiency and is associated with osteoporosis and hyperparathyroidism. If I do not supplement it is not unheard of for me to have a level hovering in the teens. That is not good! That is because Vitamin D is not just a vitamin. It is in reality a steroidal hormone that regulated many systems in your body. Deficiency has been linked to diabetes, migraines, heart disease, hypertension, seizures and many other disorders.
I live in the land of sun here in Florida. It should be easy for me to get what I need for my daily requirements. However I do have to admit I probably do not get the 10-15 minutes of day of sun exposure I need as I work inside most of the day. In addition I have elevated cortisol levels due to stress which also depletes Vitamin D stores.
A new study out of the University of Kentucky indicates that Vitamin D deficiency may cause damage to the brain. The results were published in the Free Radical Biology and Medicine. It showed that when middle aged rats were given a low vitamin D diet for several months they developed damage to their brains and performed poorly in cognitive testing. Cognitive functioning is important for learning tasks and memory. The researchers felt that certain brain proteins were higher that contributed to stress in the brain causing the cognitive impairment. The reason why the research was done is because of the increase that has been shown in vitamin D deficiency within the aging baby boomers in the U.S.
Prof. Allan Butterfield, lead author of the research indicates the following. "Given that vitamin D deficiency is especially widespread among the elderly, we investigated how, during aging from middle-age to old-age, low vitamin D affected the oxidative status of the brain. Adequate vitamin D serum levels are necessary to prevent free radical damage in brain and subsequent deleterious consequences."
Vitamin D comes in two forms. They are D2 and D3, Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) comes from fortified foods (like milk), plants and oral supplements. Vitamin D3 ( cholecalciferol) comes from fortified foods, animal based foods (such as fish and eggs). It is also the type of Vitamin D that is converted by the body by sunlight exposure.
Since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (along with A, E and K), it means that it is stored in your fat cells and can be used by your body as needed.
Foods that contain vitamin D
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel. These are the same fish that provide Omega 3 EFA.
- Beef liver, egg yolks and cheese, provide very small amounts.
- Most U.S. milk is fortified with 400 IU of vitamin D per quart.
- Fortified cereal, orange juice, some yogurts and soy products.
Vitamin D supplement is best absorbed when taken with food containing fat. Also it is better absorbed when taken with your largest meal of the day.