Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s

Sunlight and Cognition

By Marc Sorenson, EdD Sunlight Institute

We have previously discussed information indicating that people who received more sunlight had better brain function, and noted the relationship between Alzheimer’s, autism and other mental disorders and lack of sun. A recent study compared cognitive impairment and sunlight in a 15-year residential history of varying degrees of sunlight exposure. It showed that cognitive impairment in persons who were below the median exposure to sunlight was 88% greater than those who were above the median.[1]

The researchers mentioned vitamin D as a possible mechanism by which sunlight positively influenced cognition, but also remarked that regulation of the circadian rhythm by sunlight could be a factor. These same investigators had previously shown that lower levels of sunlight exposure resulted in a 2.58-times higher incidence of cognitive impairment.[2]

So, if you would like to maintain your cognitive abilities, soak up a little non-burning sunlight!

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

[2] Kent ST, McClure LA, Crosson WL, Arnett DK, Wadley VG, Sathiakumar N. Effect of sunlight exposure on cognitive function among depressed and non-depressed participants: a REGARDS cross-sectional study. Environ Health. 2009 Jul 28;8:34

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Go Ahead and Soak up some Sun! So says Dr. Holick.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute

Go ahead and soak up some sun! So says Dr. Holick.

It is great to have Dr. Michael Holick appearing in news articles occasionally, because he helps to stop the pervasive lies that frighten the public from partaking of life-saving sun exposure. A recent article appearing in the Washington Post, and written by Dr. Holick, makes some good points that all of us should have at our fingertips when being confronted by the anti-sun militants:

  1. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends never exposing bare skin to the sun, or even on a cloudy day, without sunscreen. [How about that for insanity!]
  2. The FDA calls ultraviolet radiation a carcinogen. [ridiculous]
  3. These messages cause widespread paranoia
  4. SPF 30 sunscreens reduce vitamin D production by 97%.
  5. A lack of vitamin D is associated with increased risk for Type 1 and 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, colon and breast cancer, influenza and tuberculosis.

Much of the rest of the article concentrates on putting the lie to the nonsense about hiding ourselves from the sun, as he talks about how vital vitamin D is for cancer, diabetes and other diseases. He then discusses the best way to get sunlight exposure. This is a must read!

This is the link to the article:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/go-ahead-soak-up-some-sun/2015/07/24/00ea8a84-3189-11e5-97ae-30a30cca95d7_story.html.

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Non-melanoma skin Cancer (NMSC) and Alzheimer’s Disease

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute

Whereas melanoma, the deadly skin cancer, is inversely associated with sunlight exposure (more sunlight exposure, less melanoma) the same is not true for NMSC, which is directly associated with sunlight exposure. It is a rarely fatal disease unless the immune system is compromised due to other diseases or anti-rejection drugs. It has been shown that NMSC associates to a lower risk of melanoma and many other cancers.

I am not suggesting that we contract NMSC in order to prevent melanoma. Correct nutritional habits can also reduce the risk of both NMSC and melanoma,[1] and it should be remembered that in the case that someone contracts an NMSC, it can be easily removed. Melanoma, however, can be deadly. The best bet is to eat wisely and obtain plenty of regular sun exposure so that risk of melanoma is dramatically decreased.

NMSC is often used as a marker for sunlight exposure and is compared with various diseases beyond cancer to determine if sunlight exposure associates to those diseases. Dr. Bill Grant just sent me a paper showing that among people over 70 with NMSC, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is profoundly decreased;[2] in fact those with NMSC had a 79% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. Or stated another way, those without NMSC had about five times the risk of the disease. Of course, this demonstrates the value of sunlight in reducing AD.

Let’s protect our minds as we age by getting plenty of non-burning sunlight! Search the Sunlight Institute site to learn more about how Alzheimer’s is influenced by sunlight and vitamin D.

[1] http://sunlightinstitute.org/lets-revisit-the-need-for-appropriate-nutrition-in-preventing-melanoma-death/

[2] White RS, Lipton RB, Hall CB, Steinerman JR. Nonmelanoma skin cancer is associated with reduced Alzheimer disease risk. Neurology. 2013 May 21;80(21):1966-72.

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Sunlight Reduces the Risk of Hip Fracture by 77% in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Stroke Patients.

.Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute

While perusing the medical and scientific literature for research that would be pertinent for my upcoming book on the value of sunlight exposure, I found a most interesting paper on sunlight exposure and bone strength.[i] The researchers searched the literature on three groups of patients, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Stroke which correlated to very high fracture rates among patients suffering from those diseases. They then found three randomized, controlled studies that determined the efficacy of sunlight exposure for reducing the risk of hip fractures in patients with these diseases.

In each study, there was a control group that did not receive the exposure and an experimental group that received regular sunlight exposure to a small part of the body daily for a year. The results were impressive: For Alzheimer’s patients, the reduction in hip fractures was 78% compared to the controls who stayed inside; for Parkinson’s patients, 73%; for stroke patients, 83%. Overall, the risk of the hip fracture was reduced by 77% in the sunlight exposed groups. Bone mass also increased in each sunlight-exposed group, so osteoporosis was obviously reversed. Did you even realize that such a thing was possible? You probably knew it only if you have been reading the Sunlight Institute blogs. There is an even more impressive study that I always mention when writing about sunlight and osteoporosis. For example, an investigation from Spain in 2008 concluded that women who actively participated in sun exposure had one-eleventh the chance of a hip fracture as those who stayed indoors.[ii] It appears from the materials on the different disease groups mentioned above, that reversibility is a reality, but how much more important is it to prevent the disease in the first place? The women in Spain did exactly that.  

The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that osteoporosis was responsible for more than 2 million fractures in 2005, including 297,000 hip fractures, 547,000 vertebral fractures, 397,000 wrist fractures, 135,000 pelvic fractures and 675,000 fractures at other sites. The foundation also estimates that the number of osteoporotic fractures is expected to rise to more than 3,000,000 by 2025, and that an average 24 % of hip-fracture patients aged 50 and over die within one year following the occurrence of their fracture.[iii]  If we take 24% of just the hip fractures that cause death we see that osteoporosis kills at least 71,280 people per year. Larrosa, M.  Vitamin D deficiency and related factors in patients with osteoporotic hip fracture.  Med Clin (BARC) 2008;130:6-9.

Do you believe that it might be worth a daily sunbath to save the lives of 70,000 people per year? Do you believe that it would be worth daily exposure (unprotected by sunscreen) to the sun (when possible) to reduce your own risk of fracture? Then why don’t we know about these statistics and the marvelous prophylactic effects of sunlight? That answers are simple: (1) it doesn’t sell any Fosamax or Boniva. (2) It doesn’t sell any noxious, deadly sunscreens. (3) It would be unthinkable for most dermatologists to admit that soaking up a little sun each day might be good for us. It has been said, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”[iv] Now you have boned up on bone strength and sunlight, and you know the truth.  

My fervent hope is that all may be free from the deceptions of those who would ignore the truth in favor of making another dollar.

[i] Iwamoto J, Takeda T, Matsumoto H. Sunlight exposure is important for preventing hip fractures in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or stroke. Acta Neurol Scand. 2012 Apr;125(4):279-84

[ii] Larrosa, M.  Vitamin D deficiency and related factors in patients with osteoporotic hip fracture.  Med Clin (BARC) 2008;130:6-9.

[iii] National Osteoporosis Foundation, Fast Facts on Osteoporosis.  Accessed Nov. 20, 2009 at http://www.nof.org/osteoporosis/diseasefacts.htm

[iv] John 8:32 (KJV)

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Striking back at Alzheimer’s Disease and Non-Alzheimer’s Dementia: Can Vitamin D and Sunlight Help?

By: Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute–


One of the fears of aging is that memory will fade and full-fledged Alzheimer’s disease will develop. Amyloid plaques, consisting of tangles of amyloid protein (a complex protein resembling starch) in nervous tissue, are pathological markers of Alzheimer’s disease that are found in the spaces between the brain’s nerve cells. Recent research indicates that vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids may help to remove these plaques and thereby reduce the risk or severity of Alzheimer’s.[1] The research, described in a press release from UCLA, compared the immune system changes and inflammatory markers in the blood from two different groups, one group with Alzheimer’s and another without the disease.

The researchers showed that both vitamin D and omega 3 improved the ability of macrophages, large white blood cells, to clear amyloid plaques in those with Alzheimer’s. Macrophages work by folding themselves around foreign particles and then disposing of them—a process known as phagocytosis. Cell death caused by Alzheimer’s disease was also diminished, and inflammatory markers diminished in those who suffered from excessive inflammation.

This whole process indicates that D and omega 3 have an enhancing influence on the immune system. Dr. Fiala, one of the researchers, stated the following: “We may find that we need to carefully balance the supplementation with vitamin D3 and omega-3 fatty acids, depending on each patient in order to help promote efficient clearing of amyloid-beta. This is a first step in understanding what form and in which patients these nutrition substances might work best.”

This information provides further knowledge on the relationship of Alzheimer’s to vitamin D levels, which has been suspected for some time. It has been shown that high dietary intake of vitamin D correlates to reduced risk of Alzheimer’s of about 77% compared to those with the lowest intake.[2] Other studies from both Europe and the US have established a link between low vitamin D and Alzheimer’s.[3] [4] [5]

As impressive as the correlation of low vitamin D and Alzheimer’s, it pales in comparison to the potential of vitamin D to reduce the risk of non-Alzheimer’s dementia. A seven-year study showed that the risk of non-Alzheimer’s dementia was 19.7 times higher in people who had vitamin D levels less than 10 ng/ml (severely deficient) than those who had higher levels.[6]

All tissues in the body have vitamin D receptors, and the brain and central nervous system must have vitamin D to function properly. A little non-burning sunlight exposure at midday can produce vast quantities of vitamin D. If the memory is fading fast, it may be time to spend more time in the sun. Remember that sun exposure is the only natural way to obtain that vitally important hormone, vitamin D.



[1] Champeau R. Vitamin D, omega-3 may help clear amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s. UCLA Newsroom Feb 2013.

[2] Annweiler C et al. Higher Vitamin D Dietary Intake Is Associated With Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease: A 7-Year Follow-up. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 Apr 13. [Epub ahead of print]

[3] Soni M et al. Vitamin D and cognitive function. Scand J Clin Lab Invest Suppl. 2012;243:79-82.

[4] Grant WB. Does vitamin D reduce the risk of dementia? J Alzheimer’s Dis 2009;17(1):151-9.

[5] Pogge E, Vitamin D and Alzheimer’s disease: is there a link? Consult Pharm. 2010;25(7):440-50.

[6] Annweiler C, et al. Serum vitamin D deficiency as a predictor of incident non-Alzheimer dementias: a 7-year longitudinal study. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2011;32(4):273-8.


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