Do you know what your vitamin D levels are? You might want to have these checked, especially if you’re a bit frail or getting older. You may also want to encourage your parents and older siblings to have their vitamin D levels checked as well. A recent study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows a 30 percent increase in the risk of death of older adults who have lower vitamin D levels when compared to adults with higher levels, MedicalNewsToday.com reports. Frail adults were found to have three times the risk of death if they had lower levels of this nutrient when compared to adults who weren't frail and had higher levels of the vitamin.

The study looked at the data on over 4,300 adults gleaned from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

"What this really means is that it is important to assess vitamin D levels in older adults, and especially among people who are frail," Ellen Smit, lead author of the study and a nutritional epidemiologist at Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, is quoted as saying.

According to MedicalNewsToday.com, “Frailty is when a person experiences a decrease in physical functioning characterized by at least three of the following five criteria: muscle weakness, slow walking, exhaustion, low physical activity, and unintentional weight loss.”

To raise the level of vitamin D in the body Smit recommends a healthy diet and a regular dose of sunshine and outdoor activity. This is regardless of the fact that older adults, who also experience an increased risk of dying with lower vitamin D levels, also have a greater risk of melanoma 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,” she says.

Should you have difficulty getting enough vitamin D from sunshine and your diet, however, supplements are recommended. However, make sure you do check your levels as having too much vitamin D in your system has also been associated with a greater mortality risk.


(Photo by Konrad Socha via sxc.hu)

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