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28/05/2009

Vitamin D keeps the mind sharp in elders

(NaturalNews) Getting a little hazy mentally and losing some cognitive function doesn't necessarily have to happen as you grow older. Evidence continues to mount that exposing yourself regularly to a healthy dose of regular sunshine and eating certain vitamin-rich fish can help keep brains sharp -- especially those of middle-aged and older men.

The latest data comes from a new study just published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry by University of Manchester scientists in collaboration with colleagues from other European centers. The researchers compared the cognitive performance of more than 3,000 men between the ages of 40 to 79 years at eight test centers.

They found that the middle-aged and older men with the higher levels of vitamin D, primarily synthesized in the skin after exposure to sunshine and also found in certain foods such salmon, showed the best cognitive function. In fact, the men with higher levels of vitamin D performed consistently better in a simple and sensitive neuropsychological test that documents an individual's attention and speed of information processing.

"Previous studies exploring the relationship between vitamin D and cognitive performance in adults have produced inconsistent findings but we observed a significant, independent association between a slower information processing speed and lower levels of vitamin D," said lead author Dr. David Lee, of Manchester's School of Translational Medicine, in a statement to the media. "The main strengths of our study are that it is based on a large population sample and took into account potential interfering factors, such as depression, season and levels of physical activity."

The most unexpected finding of the study was that increased vitamin D and faster information processing was more strongly associated in men over the age of 60, although the biological reasons for this remain unclear. Bottom line: the scientists concluded that vitamin D appears to have extraordinarily positive effects on the brain and the study raises the possibility that the vitamin could minimize aging-related declines in cognition.

There's additional breaking news about Vitamin D, too -- it may slow the progressive decline in the ability to breathe that can occur in people with asthma. According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, calcitriol, a form of vitamin D synthesized within the body, can prevent or forestall the irreversible decline in breathing that leaves many asthmatics even more vulnerable when they suffer an asthma attack. Gautam Damera, Ph.D., who presented the research at the American Thoracic Society's 105th International Conference in San Diego on Wednesday, May 20, stated that calcitriol's anti-inflammatory qualities and its ability to inhibit smooth muscle proliferation could make it an important new therapy for treating steroid-resistant asthma.

Vitamin D has already been shown to have a host of health benefits. As reported earlier this year in Natural News, it may help in the treatment and survival of colon cancer (http://www.naturalnews.com/026237.html) and the vitamin may be able to halt the growth of some breast tumors, too (http://www.naturalnews.com/025495.html).

For more information:
http://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus...
http://www.thoracic.org/sections/pu...

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