Tag Archives: sun deficiency

Cognitive Decline in the Elderly. Is it lack of Sun Exposure?

By Marc Sorenson, EdD.  Sunlight Institute…

Lack of Sun Exposure: Does it cause mental decline?  My wife and I conduct church meetings at an assisted-care center, also known as a rest home. In our almost two years at the facility, we note that many of the residents there have lost or are losing their cognitive abilities (abilities to think). It worries us that many of them do not get outdoors often, which probably contributes to both their physical and mental deterioration. It is likely that lack of sun exposure is a key factor, and research from Japan corroborates this view.[1] The researchers had previously reported that elderly individuals with cognitive impairment showed a low frequency of activity. This research assessed whether the type of activity (indoor of outdoor) had different effects on cognition.

The subjects were measured by a mental test known as the mini-mental state examination (MMSE), before being starting the study period. Then, for one year, their activities were measured by an infra-red sensor. At that time they were reevaluated and placed in one of two groups: (1) a cognitive decline group and (2) a normal group. Those whose cognition declined had very few outings away from the facility, compared to the normal group. Those who had 20 or more outings had no decline whatsoever.

The researchers summed up their findings thusly: “This study objectively evaluated the behavior of elderly individuals with infrared sensors and revealed that elderly people who have few occasions to go out tend to show a decrease in cognitive function.” The researchers should have mentioned that those who do not go out have no sun exposure.

It is also known that the risk of being admitted to a nursing home can be predicted by vitamin D levels.  In one investigation, those whose serum vitamin D levels were in the deficient category had three-and-one-half times the risk of being admitted to a nursing home as those whose levels were in the highest category.[2] Of course, people with low vitamin D levels are suffering from sun-exposure deficiency. Let’s take care of our elderly by being sure that they enjoy plenty of safe sun exposure.

Safely embracing the sun has so many positive benefits! Be sure your elderly parents and friends have sufficient sun exposure without burning.

[1] Suzuki T, Murase S. Influence of outdoor activity and indoor activity on cognition decline: use of an infrared sensor to measure activity. Telemed J E Health. 2010 Jul-Aug;16(6):686-90

[2] Visser, M. et al.  Low serum vitamin concentrations of 25 hydroxyvitamin D in older persons and the risk of nursing home admission.  Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:616-22.

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Does Does Sun Exposure have an Influence on COPD?

By Marc Sorenson, EdD.  Sunlight Institute….

COPD is defined as a heterogeneous collection of conditions that can affect various structures within the lung in a number of ways,[1] and usually cause difficulty in breathing. In 2005 there were 126,005 deaths in the US from COPD.[2]  Though there are multiple contributors to COPD such as tobacco smoke, occupational dusts, chemicals and air pollution, vitamin D and sun deficiencies may also play a role.  Research has demonstrated that the severity of the disease is correlated directly to serum levels of vitamin D,[3] and other research demonstrates that severe disturbed lung and peripheral muscle functions are more pronounced in COPD patients with vitamin D deficiency.[4] In addition, recent research shows that cardiopulmonary exercise capacity is increased remarkably in people with high vitamin D levels compared to those with low levels.[5] Of course, 90% of vitamin D blood levels are produced by sun exposure.

In other blogs, I have established that sun can prevent and even reverse osteoporosis, and it is also well-established that osteoporosis associates closely with COPD.[6] There is a high prevalence of COPD in patients with osteoporosis, and the disease is also more severe in patients with osteoporosis compared with patients with normal bone mass. [7] One may intelligently conclude, based on this information, that a part of the cause for both diseases is a lack of sun-derived vitamin D (and perhaps other sun-stimulated photoproducts). It is surprising that little or no research has been done on the effects of sun exposure per se. I would think that in very sunny areas, the risk of the disease would be reduced profoundly.

Now doesn’t that make you breathe easier?


[1] Rennard, S.  COPD: Overview of Definitions, Epidemiology, and Factors Influencing Its Development. Chest 1998;113(4)(Suppl 4):235s-241s.

[2] Deaths from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease—United States, 2000-2005.  JAMA 2009; 301(13):1331-1333.

[3] Janssens W, Bouillon R, Claes B, Carremans C, Lehouck A, Buysschaert I, Coolen J, Mathieu C, Decramer M, Lambrechts D.  Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in COPD and correlates with variants in the vitamin D-binding gene.  Thorax 2010;65(3):215-20.

[4] Yumrutepe T, Aytemur ZA, Baysal O, Taskapan H, Taskapan CM, Hacievliyagil SS. Relationship between vitamin D and lung function, physical performance and balance on patients with stage I-III chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Rev Assoc Med Bras. 2015 Mar-Apr;61(2):132-8.

[5] Kaul A, Gläser S, Hannemann A, Schäper C, Nauck M, Felix SB, Bollmann T, Ewert R, Friedrich N. Vitamin D is associated with cardiopulmonary exercise capacity: results of two independent cohorts of healthy adults. Br J Nutr. 2016 Feb 14;115(3):500-8

[6] Romme EA, Smeenk FW, Rutten EP, Wouters EF. Osteoporosis in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Expert Rev Respir Med. 2013 Aug;7(4):397-410.

[7] Silva DR, Coelho AC, Dumke A, Valentini JD, de Nunes JN, Stefani CL, da Silva Mendes LF, Knorst MM. Osteoporosis prevalence and associated factors in patients with COPD: a cross-sectional study. Respir Care. 2011 Jul;56(7):961-8.

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Sun Exposure, Chronic Fatigue and Vitamin D

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute…

A recent post by an online paper called The Korea Bizwire talks of research by Dr. Emad Al Duzahiri, in which he concludes that those who are suffering from chronic fatigue may really be suffering from sun deficiency.[1] The article mentions that vitamin D, preferably from sun exposure, is essential for reducing the risk of the disease.

There is at least one additional study indicating that optimization of vitamin D improves the severity of symptoms in those who suffer from fatigue.[2]

Remember that sun exposure is the best way to obtain your vitamin D, because it also comes along with serotonin, nitric oxide, endorphins and perhaps dopamine, and it profoundly improves the mood—just what the doctor ordered for chronic fatigue.

So when your get-up-and-go has gotten up and gone, don’t forget the sun!

[1] Emad Al Duzahiri. Quoted in The Korea Bizwire, January 19, 2016. http://koreabizwire.com/lack-of-exposure-to-sunlight-may-lead-to-chronic-fatigue/48480 (accessed January 20, 2016)

[2] Roy S, Sherman A, Monari-Sparks MJ, Schweiker O, Hunter K. Correction of Low Vitamin D Improves Fatigue: Effect of Correction of Low Vitamin D in Fatigue Study (EViDiF Study). N Am J Med Sci. 2014 Aug;6(8):396-402.

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