According to the study, there is a close link between mental activity levels in older people and the amount of the ‘sunshine vitamin’ in their body.
Previous research has already proved that vitamin D, which is made in the skin by the action of sunlight, is important for the immune system and for keeping bones strong. This new study shows that individuals with the lowest levels of vitamin D are more than twice as likely to have blunted mental faculties.
Researchers are now suggesting that vitamin D supplementation be investigated to find out more about its potential to reduce the risk of mental impairment. They add it is essential for older people to get enough vitamin D as the ability of the skin to generate it from sunlight decreases with age.
Dr Iain Lang, from the Peninsular Medical School based in Exeter and Plymouth, who ran the study, said: ‘For those of us who live in countries where there are dark winters without much sunlight, getting enough vitamin D can be a real problem - particularly for older people, who absorb less vitamin D from sunlight.’