As we age, it’s not unusual to experience memory loss, whether you forget where you left your car keys, wallet, or parked your car. New research has revealed that there may be some correlation between vitamin D and memory, and vitamin D deficiency having an impact on brain health in general.
You may be wondering: “What’s the link between vitamin D and memory? Can a vitamin D deficiency cause memory loss?” Possibly. Low vitamin D levels have been identified as a risk factor for several health conditions, including dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is soaked into our skin when exposed to direct sunlight. Scientists have known that vitamin D is vital for bone health and regulating calcium levels for a while. However, scientists have linked it to contributing to several functions in our bodies, including brain health, over the last decade.
What Is Vitamin D?
A fat-soluble nutrient, vitamin D is necessary for immune system function, brain health, and regulating calcium and phosphate, which keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. A recent study has revealed that an estimated one billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D.
There are two main types of vitamin D: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), which is in some mushrooms, and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which is in egg yolks, oily fish, and fish liver oil. Of the two types of vitamin D, D3 is the more powerful and increases vitamin D levels almost twice as much as D2.
Examining Vitamin D, Brain Health, and Low Mood
An analysis of data in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2013 examined research that involved 31,424 people, which revealed that having a vitamin D deficiency increased the risk for depression. And vice versa, those with depressive disorders were more likely to have lower vitamin D levels. Vitamin D receptors are present in the parts of the brain associated with depression, so scientists believe this may explain the connection.
How Does Vitamin D Help With Brain Health?
Receptors for vitamin D are found throughout our brains and are responsible for supporting many genes involved in brain function and play a critical role in making memories. In addition, vitamin D is neuroprotective. It regulates our immune system and supports calcium balance. In our brains, vitamin D acts as a neuro-steroid and plays many essential roles in our brain function.
Several studies have been conducted to analyze vitamin D and memory in recent years. A study in 2015 revealed links between low vitamin D levels and faster memory loss in an older population. Its findings revealed that low vitamin D levels were associated with semantic memory challenges, which are long-term memory functions, such as the ability to recall numbers, words, and concepts – all of which are necessary for communication.
Can a Lack of Vitamin D Cause Brain Fog?
Brain fog isn’t a medical condition; instead, it describes symptoms such as feeling confused, having fuzzy thoughts, poor concentration, and thinking more slowly than usual. People who suffer from depression may often experience brain fog symptoms, and as we saw above, vitamin D may cause memory loss and brain fog.
While we can’t say for sure that vitamin D deficiency, memory loss, and brain fog all go together, there is plenty of research to suggest that vitamin D and memory are connected. Studies have shown that vitamin D supplements can increase vitamin D levels, which may improve symptoms of depression, including brain fog. However, more research is needed to see if vitamin D enhances memory.
How Much Vitamin D Should You Take To Support Brain Health?
The amount of vitamin D supplement you may need depends on a few different factors, including your age, location/latitude (those further from the equator may not get as much direct sunlight), ethnicity, typical sun exposure, and clothing. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends a daily intake of 400-800 IU or 10-20m mcg, and you shouldn’t take more than 4,000 IU a day without consulting a healthcare professional.
Are There Any Negative Effects of Taking Vitamin D Supplements?
When taken within the daily recommended amounts, vitamin D supplements are considered safe, and most people don’t experience any side effects. However, if too much vitamin D is taken, side effects include weakness, nausea & vomiting, and dry mouth. Taking above 4,000 IU of vitamin D for long periods is potentially unsafe and may cause high calcium levels to build up in the blood.
When to See a Doctor About Vitamin D and Memory?
There are many reasons you might notice difficulties with memory and brain fog, and it isn’t always down to a vitamin D deficiency. However, if you’re concerned that you’ve been struggling with your memory or some brain fog symptoms, it could be worth speaking to a doctor.
If you’ve recently noticed that you’re struggling with poor concentration or your memory feels a bit fuzzy, consider speaking with a men’s health physician. Here at Opt Health, we use preventative medicine to help you feel like you again.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like to book an appointment. Get personalized support and insight from top-tier physicians that are available 24/7.