Seniors: Get Your Vitamin D!
A couple months ago we learned that Vitamin D plays an important role in physical performance levels of the elderly. Here’s what Eric Nagourney of The New York Times reported:
The researchers, led by Denise K. Houston of Wake Forest University, drew on data from an Italian study in which more than 900 people 65 and older were tested for vitamin D levels and asked to perform several tasks. The researchers looked at how fast they walked, how quickly they could get out of a chair and how well they could balance.And now, Dutch research has determined the same thing. Vitamin D deficiency may be responsible for declining physical performance in seniors. Charnicia Huggins of Reuters reports:
By some estimates, about a quarter of elderly people do not get enough vitamin D. But it is not purely a matter of diet, the researchers said, because much of the body’s vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight. Older people may be less likely to be in the sun, said the researchers, who also pointed out that skin produces vitamin D less well as it ages.
"Physicians and the general public should be made more aware of the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency, and more effort should be concentrated on the early detection and treatment of people with suboptimal levels of vitamin D," study co-author Dr. Paul Lips, of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, and his colleagues write.The research may be different, but the message remains the same—vitamin D is important! Especially for older people, I’ll let Dr. Fuhrman explain why. From Importance of Vitamin D:
Previous research has shown that low vitamin D status is not uncommon among seniors, which may be explained by their decreased exposure to sunshine, reduced dietary consumption of vitamin D, and reduced capacity to naturally synthesize the vitamin. This deficiency is known to result in bone loss and fractures, among other bone and muscle-related problems.
Americans age 50 and older are at increased risk of developing vitamin D deficiency. As people age, skin cannot synthesize vitamin D as efficiently, and the kidney is less able to convert vitamin D to its active hormone form. It is estimated that as many as 30-40 percent of older adults with hip fractures are vitamin D insufficient.1 Therefore, older adults especially benefit from supplemental vitamin D.1. Holick MF. McCollum Award Lecture, 1994: Vitamin D: new horizons for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;60:619-30.
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