Increased vitamin D does not affect children’s brainpower

By Sheryl Kay • Published: July 9th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

A daily dose of vitamin D is beneficial for children, but a boost in brainpower is not one of the reasons why.

Based on studies that showed a positive link between the vitamin and increased cognition in adults, researchers from the University of Bristol set out to determine if the same connection would hold true for children.

The investigators assessed vitamin D two and vitamin D three intake in about 3,000 9-year-olds using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, which tracked the health of kids born in the early 1990s. The same children were then monitored between the ages of 13 and 14, and again between 15 and 16, for performance levels in English, math and science.

The resulting study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, showed that for either age group, there was no association between better academic performance and vitamin D three levels. In fact vitamin D two levels were correlated with poorer performance in English.

Since studies have shown good outcomes for adults who have higher levels of both forms of vitamin D, the investigators suggest that perhaps the vitamin works better on an aging brain. Or a lifetime cumulative effect might be necessary to see positive correlations.

These results are especially significant because many experts have thought that children need extensive amounts of time out in the sunlight to reap cognitive rewards from vitamin D. The problem is more exposure to the sun comes with more exposure to the potential for skin cancer, if a child’s skin is unprotected.

An extra helping of Vitamin D may not increase your child’s smarts in the classroom, but, like other vitamins, children still need it.

And an afternoon of fun in the sun is necessary for a healthy and happy summer, too. Just don’t forget to the sunscreen.