Shining a Light on Vitamin D
Many chronic conditions can be associated with low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D affects the immune system and may act as a neuroprotective agent. In MS (multiple sclerosis), low levels of vitamin D can possibly increase the risk of developing and/or worsening MS.
What role does Vitamin D play in brain disorders like Alzheimer’s? New research suggests that having an adequate level of vitamin D in older age could possibly slow down cognitive decline and contribute to reducing the risk for dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease.
A recent study of 916 cognitively healthy, older adults that were followed for 12 years found participants with deficient levels of vitamin D exhibited a faster rate of cognitive (memory and thinking) decline and had a three-fold increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
Need to Increase Your Level of the “Sunshine Vitamin”?
It’s vital for people with MS to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D. As you age, vitamin D may play a role in developing Alzheimer’s. Long grey winter? Lack of sunshine and Vitamin D can give you a case of the “winter blues”.
To bolster your levels of Vitamin D, try the following:
- Spring has sprung! Expose your skin to the sun for a short time – your body produces vitamin D that way. About 5 to 15 minutes of exposure without sunscreen three times a week could be enough unless you have dark skin or live in a northern climate. Be careful, as too much sun, can increase the risk for skin cancer.
- Still not sunny? Eat foods such as cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon and tuna. Drink orange juice or milk fortified with vitamin D. Eat whole-grain,fortified cereal or low-fat, low sugar yogurt.
- Seek support. Ask your medical provider if you need to supplement your diet.
For recipes that contain foods that have vitamin D, visit healthybrains.org/recipes.
*This article first appeared on healthybrains.org. Healthy Brains is an initiative of our research partners at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
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