Mainstream medicine is FINALLY starting to wake up and realize that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia aren’t just “genetic” diseases.
In fact, as I explained on Tuesday, two new studies suggest that something as simple as where you live strongly affects your risk of ever developing these debilitating conditions.
But did you know certain times of the year may increase your risk of diagnosis, too? (Alert: We’re about to head into one of those potentially dangerous times!)
I’ll tell you all about that important study in just a moment, along with how you can protect your brain against disease and decline. But first, let’s back up…
Seasonal cycles DO affect human health
Modern medicine typically ignores how natural factors can have a profound effect on your health. And they typically assume that high-tech approaches beat out natural alternatives for most everything, every time.
But, as I revealed all last week, we should pay attention to seasonal cycles, as they have a BIG impact on health. Indeed, in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine of India, the seasons are the basic foundation and beginning of all diagnosis and treatment.
Even in early America, physicians always noted the time of year and weather conditions at the time of a person’s death. In fact, at Pennsylvania Hospital—the nation’s first hospital (and where I did my residency training in pathology)—we kept ledger books noting all the post-mortem examinations that were conducted, dating back to the hospital’s founding in 1762. And they, too, would always note the climate and weather conditions at the time of death.
Now, let’s dig a little deeper into the interesting study I just mentioned, which looked at the impact of the seasons on AD and dementia symptoms…
Cognitive function declines by nearly FIVE YEARS in the winter
Researchers analyzed data on 3,400 people from Canada, France, and the U.S. Seven hundred study subjects had AD and 2,700 matched control subjects did not. At several points during the study, the researchers administered cognitive testing on all the subjects to measure working memory and speed of perception.
It turns out, both the patients diagnosed with AD and the healthy study participants performed significantly worse on cognitive tests in the winter and early spring compared to summer and fall.
In fact, the lowest point of cognitive performance in the winter equated to roughly 4.8-years in “cognitive aging” compared to the highest point in the summer. (In other words, these men and women performed like their brains had aged by nearly five years!)
Plus, new cases of dementia and mild cognitive impairment—a preliminary diagnosis that typically precedes AD or dementia—were 30 percent more likely to occur during winter and early spring.
Of course, as I read through the complete study, it became clear to me that the researchers completely failed to grasp why the time of year so strongly affected cognitive function in people with—and without—AD and dementia. In fact, they hypothesized that certain little-known proteins associated with cognitive function may be higher and lower at different times of the year. But clearly—with that explanation, they were just grasping at straws.
Whereas it’s pretty obvious to me, in light of all the prior science on the subject, that the patients in the study showed dramatically improved cognition in the summer and early fall because they had more sun exposure, resulting in higher vitamin D levels! Meaning they performed poorer in the winter and early spring because of limited sun exposure—and therefore, lower vitamin D levels!
In fact, many patients in the study lived in Canada, which is far north, and in France, which is at about the same latitude as northern New England. And seasonal vitamin D deficiency remains high in these places…which is a HUGE problem.
That’s because vitamin D plays a major role in many key functions throughout the body—and especially in the brain. That’s where smart supplementation comes into play…
Vitamin D critical to brain function
During the summer, in all parts of the U.S., Canada, and France, the sun is strong enough to activate the body’s natural production of vitamin D in the skin. And the body can store it to last through early fall.
But by late fall, winter, and early spring, the stored vitamin D typically runs out—and your skin isn’t naturally producing anymore. (This may explain why the cognitive declines were seen in people both with and without AD and dementia.)
So, unless you supplement with vitamin D year-round, your levels will typically be lower during these times of the year.
In the end, I urge you to take steps to achieve and maintain optimal vitamin D blood levels year-round. Here are some simple tips to do just that:
- Spend 15 to 20 minutes daily outside in the sun without sunscreen, from April to October, when the sun is still strong enough to activate your body’s natural production of vitamin D.
- Supplement year-round with 250 mcg (10,000 IU) of vitamin D. (You can now find it in a convenient liquid form together with the potent marine carotenoid astaxanthin.)
- Have your blood tested annually for vitamin D. I recommend keeping your levels between 50 ng/mL and 75 ng/mL, but 100 ng/mL is still a safe upper limit, alongside regular screening.
Lastly, you can learn all about the many natural approaches to prevent—and reverse— this terrible brain disease in my comprehensive Complete Alzheimer’s Fighting Protocol. For more information about this online learning tool, or to enroll today, simply click here.
“Seasonal plasticity of cognition and related biological measures in adults with and without Alzheimer disease: Analysis of multiple cohorts.” PLoS Medicine, 9/4/2018; 4;15(9):e1002647. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002647.