Among older adults, a low level of vitamin D is a serious problem. Adults with low levels of vitamin D have the highest degree of risk. Low levels mean as much as a 30 percent elevated risk of death over those who have higher levels of the vitamin.
Oregon State University (OSU) researchers came to this conclusion after analyzing data obtained from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of more than 4,300 adults above age 60.
"Older adults need to be screened for vitamin D," said lead author Ellen Smit, nutritional epidemiologist at OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
During the study, adults were divided into four groups based on their levels of vitamin D. The study found that participants in the group with the lowest levels of vitamin D had a greater risk of death than those in the other three groups with higher levels of vitamin D.
"We want the older population to be able to live as independent for as long as possible, and those who are frail have a number of health problems as they age. A balanced diet including good sources of vitamin D like milk and fish, and being physically active outdoors, will go a long way in helping older adults to stay independent and healthy for longer," Smit said.
Around the world it is estimated that about a billion people have insufficient levels of vitamin D. "As you age, there is an increased risk of melanoma, but older adults should try and get more activity in the sunshine. Our study suggests that there is an opportunity for intervention with those who are in the pre-frail group (see our article on Frailty), but could live longer, more independent lives if they get proper nutrition and exercise," said Smit.
Sunshine is a great source of vitamin D, but sunshine is a problem for people with a history of skin cancer, and residents of northern climates don't get much sun in the winter. So, many people have to look elsewhere for more vitamin D. Fish and milk are excellent sources of vitamin D, but some people have trouble digesting dairy products. Some cereals and breads are also fortified with vitamin D.
Researchers recommend that older adults take 2,000 IU of supplemental vitamin D daily. Most multivitamins/minerals contain 400 IU, and single-ingredient vitamin D supplements are available for additional supplementation. Those older adults or their caregivers should choose the best way to increase their levels. As in all medication suggestions, first confer with your doctor about possible interactions with other medications.
Researchers from Portland State University, Drexel University of Philadelphia, University of Puerto Rico and McGill University in Montreal contributed to the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and a grant from OSU. Results were published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
c. 2012 - Live2AgeWell.com
You may use this article* in your newsletters or on your websites as long as you give proper credit AND link to www.live2agewell.com
We will be mailing notices when we have new articles posted, when we have important information from the latest scientific studies, and occasional notices or newsletter. Our list is not shared with anyone.