Vitamin D does not boost kids' brainpower, study finds

April 11, 2012

High levels of vitamin D do not seem to boost teens' academic performance, indicates research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Some previous research has linked higher levels of the vitamin to enhanced brainpower (cognitive function) in adults.

The authors wanted to find out if the same was true of children, and what impact different types of the vitamin - sourced mainly from sunlight (vitamin D3) or from plants (vitamin D2) - might have.

They base their findings on just over 3000 children whose vitamin D3 and D2 levels were measured when they were nine years old, on average.

All the children were part of the Avon of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), which is tracking the of a large group of children born in the early 1990s.

The childrens' in English, maths, and science was then assessed between the ages of 13 and 14, and again between the ages of 15 and 16 in terms of grades obtained in GCSE exams.

Higher vitamin D3 levels were more common among children from more affluent backgrounds, while higher levels of vitamin D2 were more common among those from more .

Their results showed that levels were not associated with better academic achievement.

And higher levels of were linked to poorer performance in English in 13 to 14 year olds and fewer A* to C GCSE grades obtained at the ages of 15 and 16.

The authors say their findings back up other vitamin D research in children, and suggest that perhaps the benefits of the vitamin on adult brainpower don't emerge until later in life.

This may be either because the vitamin has more of an impact on the ageing brain, or because it is the cumulative lifelong effect that is more important, they say.

Or it could be a question of reverse causality, whereby those with poorer brainpower spend less time outdoors and so have lower levels of the vitamin in their blood to start with.

Several studies have shown a link between vitamin D and neurological functions and viability, as well as various other aspects of health, the authors point out.

"These [studies] have resulted in calls for changes to public health guidance regarding extreme protection against UV exposure," they write

"However, our results suggest that protection of children from UVB exposure, which has been associated with low levels of vitamin D, but which protects against skin damage and skin cancer, is unlikely to have any detrimental effect on academic achievement," they conclude.

Explore further: Tuna-eating teenagers less likely to suffer depression

Related Stories

Tuna-eating teenagers less likely to suffer depression

January 20, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- New research from the Children of the 90s study at the University of Bristol, which has been charting the health of 14,500 children since their birth in the early 1990s, shows that the link between low ...

Vitamin D analogs modulate immunity in psoriasis

March 9, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Vitamin D3 analogs modulate immunity in human psoriasis, inducing thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) and cathelicidin, according to a study published online March 2 in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Low vitamin D in kids may play a role in anemia

May 2, 2011
Pediatricians from Johns Hopkins Children's Center and elsewhere have discovered a link between low levels of vitamin D and anemia in children.

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.