LEXINGTON, KY – Taking vitamin D daily over several months may help keep memory healthy and active.

According to a study published online Sept. 29 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vitamin D supplements fed to aging rats helped them navigate a difficult water maze better than others not given the daily dose.

The University of Kentucky College of Medicine study shows that the vitamin D boosts the repackaging of signaling chemicals that aid brain neurons in communicating with each other, which is central to memory and learning.

Memory improvements were associated with a level of a vitamin D metabolite that is about 50 percent higher than the one recommended by the Institute of Medicine to maintain healthy bones, but in line with what other experts recommend, according to biomedical pharmacologist and co-author Nada Porter.

Our bodies create vitamin D naturally with the help of UV sunlight, and foods such as milk are supplemented with the vitamin. But it is with additional supplements that memory function is enhanced, according to this study.

Researchers suggest consulting with personal doctors before boosting supplement intake.

Dr. Michelle Haff, ND, who practices at the Avalon Natural Medicine of Vermont in Burlington, said this research is significant, especially for her patients who live in a state that only has 45 percent sunlight – which directly impacts a person’s ability to manufacture vitamin D.

She said she regularly tests her patients for their vitamin D levels and incorporates supplements into her treatment regimens, but “it hasn’t been my go to for memory issues specifically, but now I’ll certainly keep it in mind for people who have cognitive issues.”


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