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Animal study finds vitamin D may reduce cognitive decline

Posted on: February 6, 2017   by  Missy Sturges & John Canell, MD


A new study published by the International Journal of Obesity found that vitamin D supplementation reversed cognitive impairment induced by a high fat diet among obese rats.

Obesity poses a serious health hazard, since obesity is associated with high blood pressure, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Furthermore, excessive weight gain has been shown to damage the hippocampus structure and functions in animal studies. The hippocampus is the region of the brain believed to be responsible for emotion, memory and the autonomic nervous system.

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3 Responses to Animal study finds vitamin D may reduce cognitive decline

  1. GHamilton

    My one concern here is the “high fat diet”. We know that adequate consumption of healthy fats is crucial to proper brain function. Were the rats obese because of their high fat diet? What type of fats were they being fed? Can this be misconstrued by the lay public and media as suggesting “fat is bad”? l have no doubt that Vitamin D positively affects cognitive function, but it would be interesting to know how the quality of the fat affects cognitive function as well.

    • Missy Sturges

      You make a very valid point. The researchers did not discuss the type of fat used in the study. As a result, we are unable to determine whether the source of fat may affect the outcome. Keep in mind that the main limitation of an animal study is that their diet and metabolism differs from that of humans. This study was not stating that fat is bad; rather excessive fat intake may lead to cognitive dysfunction. It would be interesting to see a study evaluate the relationship between vitamin D and a diet rich in healthy fat sources without increasing the subject’s total caloric intake.

  2. David

    You would have to search and find other fat specific research. Fats would generally be divided into saturated, omega 6 or vegetable oils, omega 3 or fish oils, mono unsaturated and a few other kinds of fats. The basic problem is inflammation so high dietary omega 6 fats would be suspected of causing inflammation. The Omega 3 fats lower inflammation and so should have a good effect. Inflammation can be affected by other factors. In one test of mice I’ve read, older mice who were fed a series of ten popular antioxidant supplements were found to have a memory function equal to that of younger mice.

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