You know that the sunshine vitamin is important for strong bones. Now, a growing body of research shows that vitamin D likely also plays a special role in the thinking power of women as they get older.
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Two different studies, published in the Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences & Medical Sciences, found that women with low levels of vitamin D in the years after menopause may be more likely to experience a decline in their mental skills, compared to their peers who had higher levels.
In one of the studies, researchers at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis followed more than 6,000 older women for four years. Those who didn’t get their daily dose of vitamin D — either from their meals, a supplement or sunshine — had a greater likelihood of developing cognitive decline and impairment.
The studies don’t necessarily prove cause and effect. There’s a chance that changes in the brain due to dementia could interfere with the way the body absorbs vitamin D, for example. And AARP's Global Council on Brain Health doesn't recommend taking any supplements to benefit your brain, unless you have diagnosed deficiency.
What’s a woman to do? Talk to your doctor about your personal risks for dementia and ask about checking your vitamin D levels.
One thing you can do right now to support your brain health is activate your access to AARP Staying Sharp today! It’s easy to enroll and is included with your AARP membership.