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Sunshine, Vitamin D, and the Brain

Most everyone enjoys a bit of sunshine, but what most people probably don’t know is iStock_33189674_MEDIUM 2getting some sun regularly can actually improve brain function. It all comes down to getting enough vitamin D, which your skin produces when it’s in direct sunlight.

Vitamin D and Cognitive Functioning

A number of studies have shown that individuals who are vitamin D deficient are at greater risk for diminished cognitive functioning. These studies largely involved older adults, in which deficiency in this nutrient was shown to negatively affect their ability to make decisions, work with numbers, and perform well on cognitive function tests.

Your body uses vitamin D to help nerves to grow and facilitate transmission of neural signals in the brain. Individuals who don’t get enough vitamin D have a higher risk of developing cognitive impairment. By extension, low intake may be related to Alzheimer’s since the disease is often preceded by diminished cognitive function.

This deficiency may also have a link with depression. Vitamin D receptors in the brain are largely located in the same areas associated with depression.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D is synthesized primarily through sunlight. Not getting enough sun can lead to a deficiency, and you might be at higher risk for reduced brain function in the future. It might seem as simple as slapping on some sunblock and getting outside more often, but there is a minor hitch.

Using sunscreen actually reduces your skin’s ability to produce vitamin D. The common use of sunblock might have made the general population more vitamin D deficient as a whole, leading to the cognitive issues we see today.

Fortunately, this vitamin can be obtained by dietary means, such as through (aptly named) vitamin D milk or via supplements.

Getting Enough Vitamin D

On average, you need about 1,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D each day, but the exact amount depends on the individual. Elderly care facilities such as Senior Care Centers take individual needs into account when caring for the elderly, that’s why we offer various activities, both indoor and out, our residents can partake in through our Resident Wellness Program. For more information on our facilities, call or contact us today!

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