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Vitamin D also helps make a strong mind

Neurology® published an article on Aug. 6, 2014 titled Vitamin D and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease. The conclusion that was reached in this study from Exeter University in the UK finds a definite link between low vitamin D levels and the onset of dementia and Alzheimer disease.

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Conclusion: Our results confirm that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease. This adds to the ongoing debate about the role of vitamin D in nonskeletal conditions. Neurology® 2014;83:1–9

Conventional medicine has continued to develop a huge array of pharmaceutical drugs to attempt to cure different diseases, including dementia and Alzheimer disease. Modern imaging technology has been able to pinpoint the areas of the brain that are affected when these diseases occur. The previous knowledge of vitamin D was mainly focused on its impact of vitamin D on calcium absorption for bone formation and bone density.

The drugs that are available today do not claim to cure either dementia or Alzheimer disease. Their stated goal is to slow down the progression of the diseases and to reduce the symptoms. As the population ages, there is an increasing number of people that are developing these diseases. People are fearing the approach of old age due to the fear of losing their mental capabilities.

The approach of Eastern medicine is focused on preventing diseases and keeping the body’s immune system functioning at the highest levels. In the case of dementia and Alzheimer disease, prevention offers more hope than current cures. This new study indicates that increasing levels of vitamin D in older people may help delay the onset of dementia or Alzheimer disease. It remains to be seen whether additional vitamin D can reverse the effects of these diseases.

Vitamin D is naturally produced by the body through exposure to sunlight. Due to fear of skin cancer, a changing culture that has many people working inside, and life choices that have people getting less sunlight, vitamin D production by the body has been reduced.

WebMD has this to say about vitamin D and its occurrence.

Vitamin D is a vitamin. It can be found in small amounts in a few foods, including fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines and tuna. To make vitamin D more available, it is added to dairy products, juices, and cereals that are then said to be “fortified with vitamin D.” But most vitamin D – 80% to 90% of what the body gets – is obtained through exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D can also be made in the laboratory as medicine.

It is clear that getting more sunlight is the most efficient way to increase vitamin D levels. If this exposure is not desired or is not available, addition of vitamin D is necessary. The dairy industry has promoted the addition of vitamin D in their products. The vitamin D added to milk is not as available for use in the body as what is produced in the body or available from animal sources.

Vitamin D is fat soluble and it is stored in body fat. Food sources that provide vitamin D are readily and inexpensively available.

  1. Fish liver oils have the highest levels of available vitamin D. Cod liver oil has been used for centuries for health. Fermented skate liver oil is high in vitamin D and vitamin A. It is available at health food stores or the internet.
  2. High oil content fish have high levels of vitamin D. These include sardines, mackerel, salmon and tuna. Vitamin D is destroyed under high heat, which requires that these fish are gently cooked. Canned versions of these fish that are packed in oil retain higher levels of vitamin D than those in water.
  3. Oysters are a good source of vitamin D. Gently cooking is recommended. Canned oysters packed in oil are better than those packed in water. Canned oysters are available at Oriental food markets.
  4. Fish eggs are available fresh at Oriental food markets or at Kroger’s sushi stand as a decorative covering for sushi. Taramosalata is a Greek style caviar spread packed in canola oil. It is available at specialty shops, along with various other forms of caviar. Muslim groceries also carry different forms of fish eggs that are not expensive.
  5. Egg yolks are a source of vitamin D. The factory farm eggs are a pale yellow. Free range organic eggs are a bright orange. The difference in color also indicates the difference in vitamin D content. Pay the money for the organic free range eggs.

It is significant that an extensive scientific study has found that a food nutrient is a critical part of maintaining brain functionality. The emphasis on pharmaceutical drugs as the way to treat diseases ignores over 5,000 years of Eastern medicines use of food as medicine. Other foods that have been shown to improve brain functionality are discussed in the attached articles.

The original study is not written for the casual reader. It is available and the conclusion is easily understood. Get more vitamin D in your diet. The above list of food sources will put more usable vitamin D into your body than a chemically derived supplement. For those with a professional interest, the contact regarding the original study is Dr. Llewellyn: david.llewellyn@exeter.ac.uk.

In addition to eating healthy food sources of vitamin D and other nutrients, regular exercise of the mind and body will help you maintain a higher functioning brain. Stress is a major issue in brain performance. Meditation, singing or listening to music reduce stress. The combination of diet, exercise, and reduced stress will help the brain working clearly.