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According to findings from a recent study, the brains of people with vitamin D deficiency age faster than those with adequate vitamin D levels. This is particularly true for males.

Researchers measured blood vitamin D concentrations in the blood of more than 1,800 healthy adults. Then they scanned the participant’s brains to assess their brain aging. They calculated the participants' brain age based on chronological age and brain volume.

They found that participants with vitamin D deficiency (which the researchers defined as less than 16.08 nanograms (ng) per milliliter (ml) for the purposes of this study) were more likely to have accelerated brain aging, as evidenced by lower total brain and gray matter volumes. Interestingly, the association between low vitamin D concentrations and older brain age was only statistically significant for male participants.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver and fatty tissues of the body. Perhaps best known for its role in maintaining calcium balance and bone health, vitamin D plays critical roles in many physiological processes. Poor vitamin D status is implicated in the pathogenesis of many acute and chronic diseases, including osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.

Although the researchers that conducted this study used 16.08 ng/ml as the cutoff for vitamin D deficiency, public health experts and physicians disagree regarding the appropriate cutoffs and terminology that define vitamin D status. Learn more about vitamin D in our overview article.

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