It is not unusual to silently wonder if you will get dementia as you age.
No one wants Alzheimer’s disease or any other form of dementia, but few people know that it can be slowed. One vitamin that can help prevent dementia – or slow its development – is vitamin D3.
A study lasting nine years that involved more than 360,000 people, was conducted in England. In this group, about 4,100 people were diagnosed with new-onset dementia during the study.
After examining the study’s results, the likelihood of developing dementia increased when exposed to either too little sunlight or too much of it. Getting too little sunshine was more likely to develop dementia than getting too much.
For every 0.5 hours of less sunlight received, the risk of dementia increases by 28.7 percent.
Women over 60 that were exposed to too little sunshine were more likely than men to develop dementia. Getting too little sleep each night – seven hours – also impacted the development of dementia.
Low vitamin D levels affect memory, the ability to function, and can prevent being able to stay alert.
It can also increase their risk of falls and lead to sundowner’s problems – increased confusion after sunset. People with depression are also affected by a lack of sunlight – but getting a morning dose can help.
The human body needs exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun to make vitamin D. Obtaining sunlight through a glass window is not believed to provide a sufficient amount of the vitamin.
The CDC estimated that around 17% of all dementia cases in the U.S. can be prevented by raising Vitamin D levels.
An insufficient amount of the vitamin leads to brain shrinkage and could increase the risk of stroke. Low amounts of the vitamin may also aid in the development of diabetes, respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular disease.
Sunlight can also help those people that already have dementia.
Alzheimer’s and dementia tend to create insomnia, making it difficult to stay asleep. Even melatonin does not offer much relief. When exposed to sunlight, their circadian rhythm is often reset, which helps them sleep better. Morning sunshine seems to be the most beneficial.
When tested on mice that started developing amyloid plaque (the cause of dementia) in their brains from birth, vitamin D3 produced multiple benefits. After analyzing the mice, vitamin D3 decreased the amount of amyloid plaques and inflammation and increased nerve growth factor (NGF).
Plaque in the brain can be reduced by consuming omega-3 – which is often found in fish oil. Omega-3 fatty acids also help support brain health – including thinking, analyzing, and memory. Other beneficial vitamins include vitamin E, curcumin, B vitamins, and ginkgo Biloba.
The “sunshine vitamin” is easily obtained and is free when you are out in the sun. Too much vitamin D can be a problem. Excessive amounts of the vitamin, which is also responsible for bone health, can cause an excess of calcium to build up in the body. This condition can damage your kidneys and heart and can also help weaken your bones.
Covid-19 has led many people to stay indoors more than they should.
Reduce the risk of dementia by going outdoors more often (daily) for sunshine and a daily dose of vitamin D.
You can also take a vitamin D supplement if your doctor advises it. Up to one-and-a-half hours is the maximum you need to avoid getting too much vitamin D and skin cancer.