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Researchers Find Correlation Between Vitamin D And Cognitive Decline Surprising

Researchers Find Correlation Between Vitamin D And Cognitive Decline Surprising

The idea of a cognitive decline is not something most people enjoy thinking about, let alone looking into. However, researchers have uncovered a surprising link between Vitamin D deficiency and the rate of cognitive decline in the later stages of life.

The study, presented by ScienceDaily, from the joint team efforts of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center and Rutgers University researchers has found a significant link between the levels of vitamin D intake and the rate of cognitive decline among selected populations. The research found that older individuals who have much lower levels of vitamin D intake were three times more likely to develop stronger symptoms of cognitive decline.

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What is the reasoning behind this shocking acceleration of cognitive decline? According to the research team, melanin levels in the skin appear to have some correlation with the rate of decline.

This research has startling and interesting implications for the American-based researchers, particularly when it comes to the kind of findings inferred for Hispanic/Latin individuals and African-American individuals. As the researchers pointed out in their findings, people with darker skin tones receive less vitamin D from sunlight due to the stronger levels of melanin in their skin. Melanin, the chemical within the skin that causes the skin to tan and darken, and which also prevents the body from synthesizing vitamin D as effectively, is naturally more present within individuals with darker skin tones (such as African-American and Hispanic/Latin individuals), meaning that they may be more likely to have lower vitamin D levels and therefore be at further risk of an accelerated decline of cognitive faculties.

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The question remains: what is it about Vitamin D that seems to help slow down cognitive decline in older individuals? Vitamin D has been linked intrinstically to the absorption of essential calcium into the body, and it also has benefits in preventing conditions such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults (both are conditions in which the bones become softened, generally through a vitamin D deficiency).

In addition, African-American and Hispanic/Latin individuals are among the racial groups in the United States less likely to consume the recommended amount of dairy products rich in vitamin D, which would, in theory, help to boost levels of the vitamin. The study found that, after speaking to the 50% of African-American and Mexican-American participants within the study, they found that a paltry 6.5% of the African-American participants consumed the levels of dairy products as recommended by the FDA, and only 11% of Mexican-American participants consumed the same recommended levels.

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Charles DeCarli, the head of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center, expressed a desire to continue further research into these shocking and surprising findings.

“I don’t know if replacement therapy would affect these cognitive trajectories. That needs to be researched and we are planning on doing that. This is a vitamin deficiency that could easily be treated and that has other health consequences. We need to start talking about it. And we need to start talking about it, particularly for people of color, for whom vitamin D deficiency appears to present an even greater risk,” DeCarli said.

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What the research means for the future of Alzheimer’s and dementia research is unclear. While DeCarli mentions the idea of a “replacement therapy,” the idea of introducing more vitamin D into the diets and lives of individuals suffering cognitive decline, particularly individuals with darker skin tones such as African-American and Hispanic/Latin individuals, seems both a laughably simple premise and a difficult challenge. However, while an actual cure for cognitive decline may be several years away, it appears to be a step in the right direction for helping manage and slow down such a destructive disease.

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Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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