Protect Your Brain from Alzheimer’s with the Sunshine Vitamin

In All Health Watch, Cognitive Health, Dementia, Featured Article, Nootropics and Brain Support

Anyone who has seen the effects of Alzheimer’s in a friend or family member knows the helplessness that comes with this devastating disease. It can steal your confidence, take your independence and rob you of your yesterdays.

Fortunately, scientists continue to offer hope for the prevention and treatment of this insidious disease.

In a previous issue of this newsletter, we warned that chronic excess sugar consumption is one of the primary risk factors for the disease. In fact, some doctors are now calling certain Alzheimer’s symptoms, “Type 3” diabetes, because of their connection to blood sugar dysfunction in the brain.

And now, new research reveals that vitamin D may also play a powerful role in the prevention of this degenerative disease.

“Sunshine” Vitamin Boosts Brain Function

The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine1 and first reported at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease.

The authors of this study examined the blood levels of vitamin D in 3,325 adults over the age of 65. Then they compared these numbers to the participants’ scores on a series of tests and exams designed to measure memory, orientation in time and space, and ability to maintain attention.

The researchers classified the subjects as “cognitively impaired” if they scored in the worst 10 percent among those in the study.

The results showed that the risk of cognitive impairment was 42 percent higher in those who are “deficient” in vitamin D. That’s a significant finding. But the real shocker was the rate of impairment in those who were “severely deficient” in the sunshine vitamin. These patients exhibited a 394 percent higher likelihood of impairment!

“The odds of cognitive impairment increase as vitamin D levels go down,” says study author David Llewellyn. “Given that both vitamin D deficiency and dementia are common throughout the world, this is a major public health concern.”

The same group of researchers also worked on an earlier related study. It also offered evidence supporting this simple truth: seniors who get their daily dose of “sunshine” maintain stronger cognitive functioning. Conversely, as vitamin D levels fall, the risk of mental impairment rises.

Sources of the “Sunshine” Vitamin

Vitamin D can be found in some foods. The best sources are oily fish, such as herring, mackerel and sardines. However, the quantities in food are much, much smaller than what you need for optimal health.

In fact, according to noted vitamin D researcher, Dr. Michael Holick, the average light-skinned person will produce up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D within just half an hour of summer sun exposure. You would have to eat 58 cans of sardines to get the same amount of vitamin D.

This indicates that “nature knows best” and the optimal way for us to achieve appropriate vitamin D levels is through exposure to sunlight.

However, many of us live in climates where it is just not possible to get enough sunlight for most of the year. Others spend too much time indoors and are not able to enjoy the sun as much as we should.

In addition, we gradually lose our capacity to produce Vitamin D from sunlight as the body ages – a time when we need it most. According to Dr. Iain Lang, one of the authors of the Alzheimer’s and vitamin D study, “Getting enough vitamin D can be a real problem, particularly for older people, who absorb less vitamin D from sunlight.”

The only way to know if your vitamin D levels are putting you at risk for cognitive impairment – and a host of other diseases – is to have your levels tested. The test is inexpensive and can be performed with a simple blood draw.

The optimal level of vitamin D ranges from 50-70 ng/ml. If your levels fall below this range, you should make plans to enjoy some time in the sun more often (without burning). If that is not possible or practical, consider supplementing your diet with Vitamin D3. Then check your levels again after a few months to ensure that your levels are within range.

Vitamin D is one of the most powerful and important compounds to your health. We already know that it can reduce your risk for cancer and promote a strong immune system. And now we know that it can protect your brain too. So preserve your mind and precious memories by making plans to enjoy some time in the sun each week.

[Ed. Note: Scientists and medical researchers have associated vitamin D levels with virtually every degenerative disease known to man. The risk of cancer, in particular, is strongly related to vitamin D levels. In fact, one study found that 30% of ALL cancer deaths worldwide could be prevented year with higher levels of this compound. That’s why the researchers from Natural Health Dossier teamed up with Dr. Al Sears to produce the groundbreaking book, Your Best Health Under the Sun. Discover just how important sun exposure is to your health… and the best ways to ensure that you and your family have optimal levels of health promoting vitamin D by clicking here.]

1Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(13):1135-1141