Although excessive exposure to the sun has had its fair share of negative publicity, the positive aspect to it is the sun provides our bodies with an essential nutrient – Vitamin D. Sufficient Vitamin D is important for healthy bones and overall well-being. It has been the center of a number of studies, including a deficiency being associated with rapid cognitive decline, especially in older individuals.
In a study overseen by Joshua Miller from the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (New Jersey, USA), a group of 382 people from various ethnic groups and ranging in age from 60 to 90 years old, were studied over a period of 5 years whereby their cognitive decline was assessed along with their Vitamin D levels.
The participants included those with normal cognition, mild cognitive loss, and dementia, and most of the group suffered from low Vitamin D levels. Although participants with darker skin tend to have lower Vitamin D levels because melanin, the pigment that makes skin dark blocks the ultra-violet rays that help the skin synthesize vitamin D, the results of the study found no difference in the rate of cognitive decline based on racial or ethnic differences.
The study concluded that Vitamin D deficiency had an effect on cognitive decline. However, too much Vitamin D can be dangerous, and individuals should consult with a physician before taking extra supplements.