Sun Exposure is directly associated with Cognitive (mental) Ability.

Sun Exposure is directly associated with Cognitive (mental) Ability.

Sun and cognitive ability by Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute…

If you have depression, you may also have cognitive impairment, according to older research that I just became aware of. The researchers measured cognitive abilities among approximately 14,000 depressed subjects and then exposed them to either one day of sunlight or two weeks of sunlight. They then determined if cognitive disabilities were associated with the sun they obtained.[1]

The results were impressive: Those who were sun-deprived for two weeks had 2.5 times the risk of being cognitively impaired, compared to those who had sufficient sunlight. A one-day exposure made no significant difference in cognition.

Results of other research, based on a 15-year residential history of varying degrees of sun exposure, has also shown that cognitive impairment in persons who were below the median exposure to sun, was 88% greater than those who were above the median.[2] The researchers mentioned vitamin D as a possible mechanism by which sun positively influenced cognition, but they also remarked that regulation of the circadian rhythm by sunlight could be a factor.

Several other studies showed a close, positive association between vitamin D levels and cognition, and as we know, vitamin D levels in most cases are a surrogate measurement for sun exposure.

The message is to get plenty of sunlight to improve mental clarity. Happy thinking!

[1] Shia T Kent, Leslie A McClure, William L Crosson, Donna K Arnett, Virginia G Wadley and Nalini Sathiakumar. Effect of sunlight exposure on cognitive function among depressed and non-depressed participants: a REGARDS cross-sectional study. Environmental Health 2009, 8:34

[2] Kent ST, Kabagambe EK, Wadley VG, Howard VJ, Crosson WL, Al-Hamdan MZ, Judd SE, Peace F, McClure LA. The relationship between long-term sun radiation and cognitive decline in the REGARDS cohort study. Int J Biometeorol. 2014 Apr;58(3):361-70.

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