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Vitamin D doesn't help kids do better in school

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High levels of vitamin D do not seem to help teens improve their school grades, researchers say.

Some previous research has suggested a link between higher levels of vitamin D and improved brain power in adults, so the authors of the new study wanted to determine if the same might be true in teens.

British researchers at the University of Bristol measured vitamin D levels in slightly more than 3,000 children -- all born in the early 1990s -- when they were 9 years old. The children's grades in English, math and science were evaluated when they were ages 13-14 and again when they were 15-16.

The investigators found no evidence that higher vitamin D levels improved the students' academic performance. The findings support previous research about vitamin D and children, and suggest that vitamin D's brain power boost doesn't appear until later in life.

The study was published online April 12 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

It could be that vitamin D has more of an impact on the aging brain or because the benefits of the vitamin are the result of a cumulative lifelong effect, study author Anna-Maija Tolppanen and colleagues said in a journal news release.

The authors noted that previous findings of a link between vitamin D levels and brain power have led to calls for changes to public health recommendations about the need for extensive sun protection measures. The body naturally produces vitamin D in response to sun exposure.

But these new "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," the study authors concluded.

More information

The Harvard School of Public Health has more about vitamin D and health.

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