Tags: vitamin | deficiency | death

Low Vitamin D Endangers Seniors

Monday, 30 July 2012 11:50 AM EDT

For older adults, especially those who are frail, low levels of vitamin D can mean a much greater risk of premature death, a new study conclude.
This study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examined more than 4,300 adults older than 60 and determined those with vitamin D deficiency had a 30 percent greater risk of death than people who had higher levels.
Overall, people who were frail had twice the risk of dying, while frail adults with low levels of vitamin D had three times the risk of death, compared with healthy seniors who had adequate levels of the “sunshine vitamin.”
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“What this really means is that it is important to assess vitamin D levels in older adults, and especially among people who are frail,” said lead researcher Ellen Smit of Oregon State University.
“Older adults need to be screened for vitamin D,” said Smit, a nutritional epidemiologist at OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “As you age, there is an increased risk of melanoma, but older adults should try and get more activity in the sunshine.”
Frailty is defined as a decrease in physical functioning and includes muscle weakness, slow walking, exhaustion, low physical activity, and unintentional weight loss.
Researchers said they could not determine if low vitamin D contributed to frailty, or whether frail people became vitamin D deficient because of health problems. But Smit said it makes no difference.
“If you have both, it may not really matter which came first because you are worse off and at greater risk of dying than other older people who are frail and who don’t have low vitamin D,” she said. “This is an important finding because we already know there is a biological basis for this. Vitamin D impacts muscle function and bones, so it makes sense that it plays a big role in frailty.”
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For the study, researchers divided study participants into four groups based on their vitamin D levels. In general, they found those who had lower vitamin D levels were more likely to be frail and face greater risks of early death.
About 70 percent of Americans have insufficient levels of vitamin D. OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute recommends adults take 2,000 IU of supplemental vitamin D daily. The current federal guidelines are 600 IU for most adults, and 800 for those older than 70.

© HealthDay

For frail older adults, low levels of vitamin D can raise the odds of premature death.
Monday, 30 July 2012 11:50 AM
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