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Dec 03, 2013 04:16 AM EST

Vitamin D Deficiency Causes Brain Damage, Study

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Apart from causing depression, certain cancers and heart diseases, low levels of vitamin D also triggers off prominent brain damage, according to a University of Kentucky study.

Researchers said Vitamin D not only plays a vital role in the functioning of organs and tissues including the brain, but also helps maintain bone health.

For the study, experts fed a group of mice with a low vitamin-D diet for several months. These rats performed poorly on tests of learning and memory.

They found that brain proteins in these rats were destroyed. Plus, they also developed free radical damage to the brain.

"Given that vitamin D deficiency is especially widespread among the elderly, we investigated how during aging from middle-age to old-age how low vitamin D affected the oxidative status of the brain," Allan Butterfield, professor in the UK Department of Chemistry and lead author said in a statement. "Adequate vitamin D serum levels are necessary to prevent free radical damage in brain and subsequent deleterious consequences."

Butterfield said that it is important to maintain good levels of Vitamin D. It can be acquired via food and supplements rich in vitamin D, or simply through exposure to the sun.

The study titled 'Dietary vitamin D deficiency in rats from middle to old age leads to elevated tyrosine nitration and proteomics changes in levels of key proteins in brain: Implications for low vitamin D-dependent age-related cognitive decline' has been published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

Butterfield is also the director of the Center of Membrane Sciences, faculty of Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, and director of the Free Radical Biology in Cancer Core of the Markey Cancer Center.

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