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Eat to Lower Your Risk of Dementia

You can help keep your brain healthy with these 6 foods — plus a dose of sunshine

Eat to Prevent Alzheimer's: sun

Get your daily dose of vitamin D from the sun. — Photo by Gorilla /Getty Images

7. Get some sun

Fat-soluble vitamin D plays a vital role in regulating our immune system and how our cells use calcium, so its effects are felt throughout the body – including the brain.

UCLA scientists have found that when paired with curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, vitamin D may help trigger the immune system to clear Alzheimer’s plaques in brain tissue. Salmon, sardines, eggs and fortified foods like milk and soy products are good dietary sources for this important nutrient.

Our bodies make D naturally whenever our skin is exposed to sunlight, but this ability declines as we age, so many older people are vitamin D-deficient. Just 15 minutes of bathing sunscreen-free arms and legs in the sun a few times a week generates plenty of the vitamin.

If you can’t spend a little time in the sun, nutritionists suggest a vitamin D supplement: 600 to 800 international units (I.U.) a day will suffice for most people, but your doctor may recommend 1,000, 2,000 or even 4,000  I.U. per day, Johnson says. Vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol) is the most common supplement, but vegans can benefit from plant-derived Vitamin D2.

Remember to go to the AARP home page every day for great deals and for tips on keeping healthy and sharp.

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BRAIN HEALTH: Working with brain experts from the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, AARP has developed a wide range of resources to keep your brain sharp.

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