A new study shows exposure to sunlight has little effect on children's academic performance, but the results raise even more questions.
Lately, there has been some concern about whether using sunscreen might have a negative influence on children's mental development. At issue is whether blocking the UV rays from the sun interferes with vitamin D synthesis to the point that it may affect children's brainpower.
Because previous studies found an association between higher levels of vitamin D and improved cognitive function in adults, researchers in England set out to determine if this was also true in children, and what bearing different forms of the vitamin may have. Vitamin D3 is made in the body from exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D2 is derived from plant foods.
Researchers found higher levels of vitamin D3 were more common in children from affluent backgrounds. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds had higher levels of vitamin D2.
Just over 3,000 children in England had their levels of vitamin D2 and D3 measured at 9 years of age. Their performance in English, math, and science were assessed when they were between the ages of 13 and 14 and again between the ages of 15 and 16.