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Mind Health and Improved Cognition Boosted by Time in the Sun

Lisa Garber
July 1st, 2012
Updated 11/02/2012 at 7:09 pm
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sunscene 235x147 Mind Health and Improved Cognition Boosted by Time in the Sun

Go ahead: pack up a healthy lunch and step into the sun. Your brain will thank you for it. A study conducted by the University of Manchester proposes that adequate levels of vitamin D—which abounds in direct sunlight—helps maintain mind health and cognitive function. Researchers examined over 3,000 European men between the ages 40 and 79 and found that those with high levels of the vitamin outperformed with low levels in memory and information processing trials.

Dr. Iain Lange, who conducted similar research, warns that poor diet in general—not necessarily vitamin D deficiency—could be to blame for poor mental performance.  Even so, he admits that the evidence for vitamin D is rising and that it may safeguard cells or signaling pathways in the brain.

Vitamin D Deficiency Effects Mind Health and More

Vitamin D deficiency is linked with rickets in children, weak bones in the elderly, poor mind health, heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.  A 2010 blog post in the Scientific American even adds to the ever extending list Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder associated with cognitive decline.

Many studies in recent years (using genetically modified mice, although who knows how they’ve been “modified”) report that the animals experienced premature aging—retarded growth, osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, immunological deficiency, skin and organ atrophy, and short lifespan—due to low levels of vitamin D.

Despite the mounting evidence, researchers are quiet about why vitamin D is linked with mind health and improved cognitive health – it’s because they simply don’t know.

Hormone Link

Some say that vitamin D may trigger a boost in protective hormonal activity in the brain, although only animal and no human studies can back up this theory.  Others claim that vitamin D reins in a hyperactive immune system.  Still others cite the vitamin’s ability to boost antioxidant levels and detoxify the brain.

While still researching why vitamin D is such a boon, Prof. Tim Spector of King’s College London says, “This underscores the importance of vitamin D for humans and why evolution gave us a liking for the sun.”

And what better way to celebrate our evolutionary history than to step out into the great outdoors?

If you need more reasons to take that beach trip this year, check out our previous article on the amazing benefits of vitamin D.  And for those days when you’re stuck inside (remember, vitamin D can’t penetrate window glass!), read up on other ways to get your fill of this essential nutrient.

Additional Sources:


National Center for Biotechnology Information

Scientific American

Scientific American

From around the web:

  • Chris

    It is hard to fathom how people allow themselves to become vitamin D deficient. There are many tasty foods that contain plenty of the vitamin, plus the natural sunlight, or even supplements if you absolutely need them. But really just eat better foods and go out into the sunlight for a few minutes everyday and you will be fine.

  • Henry

    You can also get vitamin D from foods. Cod liver, fish oil has the highest vitamin D per weight. Fish like halibut, mackerel, carp are also high in vitamin D.

    Use this online vitamin D content of foods to search and compare:

  • Sally

    I agree with Goran. The sun being bad for us is a load of lies, the sun is very good for you, being the main provider of the wholly important Vitamin D!

    They are trying to depopulate the planet, so of course they are going to tell you that something that is good for you and actually prevents Cancer is bad for you!! Then they have all these toxic sun creams, which actually contain cancer causing ingredients and they want you to cover yourself liberally with that!

    Also, all the chemtrailing/Geoengineering/Solar Radiation Management that is going on all over the world, contains Aluminium which blocks Vitamin D. So, there we go again! They are trying very hard, I'll give them that!!!!!

  • Goran

    One of the main reasons why we are not getting enough vitamin D is that we have been encouraged (scared) into over-protection towards sunlight.

    Find out how this started and why the sun has become (or at least become perceived as) our enemy …