Can catching rays be good for your brain? Researchers wanted to find out. And what they discovered gives you a great way to protect your memory.
To find the answer to the question, they searched all of the published articles between 1990 and October 2015 that looked at whether or not a lack of sunlight exposure or vitamin D increased the risk of getting dementia. They could not find even one study that investigated the association between sunlight and dementia. But they did find six studies that looked at vitamin D levels and dementia risk.
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When they added up all the results, they found a 54% increased chance of dementia in people with a vitamin D level less than 25 nmol/L compared to persons with levels over 50 nmol/L. The conclusion was, "The results of this systematic review show that low vitamin D levels might contribute to the development of dementia."
Now even though the studies did not look directly at sunlight exposure, the fact that low vitamin D levels increase dementia risk implies the same thing about sunlight. That's because as you know, sunlight is what stimulates the body to produce vitamin D. So it plays a direct role in how high vitamin D levels are.
So, take a clue from this study and don't avoid sunlight, as so many people are doing these days. Instead, get as much sunlight exposure as you can. Just don't get sunburned. And just to be sure you are getting enough, check your vitamin D levels. If they are not above 50 nmol/L, then either catch some more rays or take some more vitamin D.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Sommer I, Griebler U, et al. Vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Geriatr. 2017 Jan 13;17(1):16.