Content starts here

Vitamin D Benefits More Than Your Bones, It May Support Brain Health

A woman and girl lying in the grass and laughing

You’ve probably heard that soaking up sunshine will boost your vitamin D levels. The crucial vitamin helps your body absorb calcium, the foundation of strong, healthy bones. Your muscles, nerves and immune system need it to function properly, too.

Your skin makes vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight. Some doctors recommend that people over 50 get three 15-minute outdoor sessions per week with uncovered arms and legs. Certain foods can up your vitamin D intake as well. That includes fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna. Beef liver, cheese and eggs contain vitamin D in smaller amounts. Manufacturers often add it to cow’s milk, cereals and other items.

Although many adults take supplements to reach the 600-800 international units (IU) of vitamin D they need each day for overall health, there’s not enough evidence that the pills have an impact on brain health. That was the conclusion of a 2019 report from AARP’s Global Council on Brain Health, “The Real Deal on Brain Health Supplements.”

Still, some studies — but not all — suggest a possible connection between low levels of vitamin D and memory problems or dementia. A recent study of 12,388 older adults compared those who took vitamin D supplements with those who did not over 10 years. The supplement group had 40 percent fewer dementia diagnoses, as reported in 2023 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring. But researchers need to replicate these results before vitamin D supplements are recommended for brain health.

To learn more about vitamin D and brain health, read this article in Staying Sharp. 

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any expert, professional or specialty advice or recommendations. Readers are urged to consult with their medical providers for all questions.

Search AARP Blogs
Related Posts
September 08, 2023 06:35 PM
Yoga’s popularity is on the rise, as is the list of its potential benefits. Find out what long-term yoga practice may do for your brain health.
September 08, 2023 10:52 AM
Small diet tweaks can benefit your health, including brain health. Here are three that you can make that may prove beneficial.
August 24, 2023 11:08 AM
Staying socially engaged isn’t always easy for many older adults, but it’s worth it. Learn how social connections may help protect cognitive function.