June 26, 2009

Are you smarter in the summer than in the winter?

It's that time of year again . summer vacations, fun at the beach, and a big boost in brain power. I know it sounds crazy, but new evidence suggests you might actually be smarter in the summer than in the winter. What's more, you can easily keep your brain cells in top form through the winter months.

Researchers recently found that vitamin D participates in biosynthesis of nerve proteins and at least one neurotransmitter pathway. In plain English, that means it protects your neurotransmitters. Fewer neurotransmitters bring unwanted alterations in mood, emotion, and cognitive function.

The study found that vitamin D also increases glutathione in the brain. That strongly suggests that you can use the nutrient to enhance brain detoxification of chemicals and heavy metals. Vitamin D reduces the amount of nitric oxide produced in your brain. While we need nitric oxide to keep our blood vessels open, too much in your brain can lead to free radical damage. Finally, in the lab, vitamin D induced death of glioma (brain cancer) cells.

Vitamin D isn't really a food nutrient. It's a solar nutrient. You get a lot of it from the sun, which means you get more in the summer than in the winter. Unfortunately, most people are severely deficient — even in the summer. So you shouldn't depend on the sun to deliver your needed vitamin D. I am currently taking 50,000 units of vitamin D twice weekly. That's 5,000-10,000 IU every day. I use the formulation from sheep lanolin sold through Advanced Bionutritionals. It is suitable for vegetarians since it is taken from their wool, not their bodies.

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Ref: Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Apr;13(3):100-5.

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