Research is discovering more and more about the great importance of the sunshine vitamin; Vitamin D for health and wellbeing.
We know about the vital importance of vitamin D for bone health, and now recent research has shown that Vitamin D supplements could help the elderly prevent disability and immobility.
How the elderly could benefit from Vitamin D supplements
Those adults, particularly older adults, who have a Vitamin D deficiency are more likely to have problems relating to mobility and could be at greater risk of disability recent research has found.
A study conducted at the Wake Forest Baptist Department of Geriatrics and Gerontology by nutrition epidemiologist Denise Houston looked at the connection between Vitamin D levels and functioning of older adults.
The ability of older people (aged 70 to 79) to walk several blocks or climb stairs was examined in the study. Those study participants who had lower levels of vitamin D were seen to be at higher risk of reduced mobility.
Vitamin D is important for not only bone health but also for proper functioning of the muscles.
This leads to lower muscle strength and physical performance.
There are also indirect ways in which lack of Vitamin D could affect physical performance – high blood pressure and diabetes; cardiovascular and lung ailments are other problems that could be caused by the lack of this essential nutrient.
These also contribute to reduced mobility, so in this way also, lower levels of vitamin D contribute to disability.
Why Vitamin D supplements may be required
It can be difficult to obtain enough vitamin D from the diet alone, though it can be absorbed by sun exposure and can also be got from foods fortified by vitamin D such as cereals, juices, milk etc.
According to the lead researcher Houston, people over the age of 70 need about 800 IU of vitamin D per day to maintain good bone and muscle health. Older people may need higher levels of the nutrient to preserve muscle strength and range of physical functions.
The study leader clarified that the results of this study don’t conclude that older people should start taking Vitamin D supplements to increase physical functioning, since further research is needed to corroborate these findings.
However in the meantime, it is a good idea to keep vitamin D levels in the body at an optimum level for all of us – the elderly and others. Make sure that you get some amount of sun exposure (10 minutes a day may be all that you need) and eat fortified foods.