As you get older, your brain changes. It may take you longer to learn new information. And you may forget what you learned far faster than you did in your younger days.
But one powerhouse vitamin can bolster your memory and learning capacity.
In fact, researchers observed that men and women with higher vitamin D levels have significantly better cognitive function as they get older.
But, as I always say, it’s never good enough for modern, mainstream scientists to observe that something works. They need to know exactly how and why it works.
So I was pleased to come across a new study with lab animals that sheds light on exactly how and why vitamin D improves brain function. In theory, it should help satisfy the bean counters of the medical world.
For this study, researchers divided middle-aged rats into three groups. The first group received high levels of vitamin D3 for six months. The second group received medium levels of vitamin D. And the third group got the lowest amount.
After six months on these diets, the researchers put all the rats through a challenging maze test. Specifically, the researchers tested the rats’ ability to recall the location of a platform in a water maze, and then to recall a new location. The researchers compared the maze to finding your car in your workplace parking lot after parking it in a new place.
Not surprisingly, mice given higher daily doses of vitamin D navigated the maze significantly faster than those who received lower doses.
The low-dose rats meandered around the maze and seemed confused. They took long, winding paths that looked like loopy kindergarten scribbling. Yet the high-dose rats took simpler routes, with few changes of direction.
Nada Porter, a biomedical pharmacologist at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, said the findings suggest vitamin D may help brain cells receive and process signals in ways connected with memory-making and recall.
Specifically, the researchers discovered changes inside the rat hippocampus, the part of the brain that supports learning and memory. The hippocampus is also very susceptible to age-related changes.
The researchers also discovered important changes in the activity of dozens of genes. Most notably those genes involved in transporting neurotransmitters to the synapses. This finding is important because the aging brain commonly loses synaptic strength, which can impair communication between neurons.
For comparison purposes, the researchers converted the amount of vitamin D given to the high-functioning mice to human levels. In human terms, the highest vitamin D level in the study was about 50 percent higher than the level currently recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for healthy bones.
In other words, if you want to get the same results as the mice, theoretically, you would have to take 50 percent more vitamin D than the IOM currently recommends. (See just how out-of-date the IOM’s recommendations are?)
Unfortunately, the researchers did all this great research but then stopped short of making any recommendation about vitamin D dosages in humans. They said, “many factors influence vitamin D levels, and it’s best for individuals to consult with their doctors.”
In the November Insiders’ Cures newsletter, I explain why researchers and some doctors are still so reluctant to make vitamin D recommendations. And why there’s still a “debate” at all about vitamin D in the smoke-and-mirrors of mainstream medical practice.
But there is no question about the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in the U.S. today. Nor any question that most people need to supplement to obtain optimal levels of this critical vitamin.
I recommend 5,000 IU of vitamin D per day, which you can take in a liquid form. (Just a few drops is all it takes to get a full 5,000 IU.) You can take it straight, or add it to fruit juice or milk.
- “Vitamin D prevents cognitive decline and enhances hippocampal synaptic function in aging rats,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(41)