HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A recent study suggests that a deficiency of vitamin D is associated with brain aging.

The study, titled “Vitamin D deficit is associated with accelerated brain aging in the general population,” was published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.

The study tested vitamin D levels in 1,865 subjects and also recorded data from magnetic resonance imaging, or MRIs.

The study found that vitamin D deficiency was “significantly associated” with an increase in brain age.

“Also, linear vitamin D levels were significantly associated with total brain and gray matter volumes, while no significant association with hippocampal volume was found,” the study stated.

The study also said that the association was only significant for male subjects.

Lastly, the abstract of the study concludes by suggesting that vitamin D may have “neuroprotective effects” in total brain and gray matter volumes.

What is Vitamin D?

According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is available in food, added to foods or produced when UV rays from the sun strike the skin and begin vitamin D synthesis.

These forms of vitamin D are considered “biologically inert,” NIH stated, as the compounds must undergo reactions that will ultimately form the physiologically active form of Vitamin D known as calcitriol.

Vitamin D plays a vital role in calcium absorption, bone growth and remodeling. Along with calcium, vitamin D helps prevent osteoporosis in adults, according to the NIH.

The U.S. began “fortifying” milk with Vitamin D in the 1930s in an effort to eradicate rickets, a disease associated with softening or distorting of the bones in children due to vitamin D deficiency, according to the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The NIH said that some people may be able to meet their vitamin D needs through sunlight exposure.

“Some expert bodies and vitamin D researchers suggest, for example, that approximately 5–30 minutes of sun exposure, particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., either daily or at least twice a week to the face, arms, hands, and legs without sunscreen usually leads to sufficient vitamin D synthesis,” the NIH’s post stated.

Foods high in vitamin D include: cod, trout, salmon, mushroom and milk.