Why your ageing parent should get the right dose of vitamin D. A study that followed nearly 400 75-year olds for eight years, has concluded that low levels of vitamin D “may accelerate cognitive decline in older adults”.
The subjects were examined to test their episodic memory, semantic memory, visual perception, and executive function.
Participants with signs of dementia had lower levels of vitamin D than those with either no cognitive impairment or only mild cognitive impairment.
Insufficient vitamin D was linked to much faster declines in episodic memory (recollection of people, places, and events), and executive function (your ability to reason, solve problems, and plan).
The recommended daily amount of vitamin D for people over the age of 70 is 800mg per day.
So how can our ageing parents get more vitamin D?
A key source of vitamin D is sunlight, so it’s important to get out each day and expose your skin to the sun. There does however need to be a balance between generating vitamin D and skin cancer.
The Cancer Council recommends the following:
During summer in the southern parts of Australia (south of the Queensland/New South Wales border), and all year round in the north (north of the border), young people need a few minutes a day of sun exposure to an area of skin equivalent to your face, arms, and hands.
In winter south of the border, young people need about two to three hours, spread over each week, to the face, arms, hands, or equivalent area.
However, the elderly and people with naturally very dark skin need 3-6 times this amount.
Food and drink
Vitamin D is found in foods such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring), egg yolks, beef liver, and drinks fortified with vitamin D like milk or juice.
The Vitamin D council, however, warns that “food does not supply enough vitamin D, so those who are deficient require supplements”. This usually means the elderly, so look for some vitamin D pills for your ageing parents.
Other benefits of vitamin D
Vitamin D has been shown to be important for people suffering from chronic pain conditions. Studies have found that people with chronic pain have lower levels of vitamin D and when I tell my patients to increase their supplementation they generally report a good improvement in their pain.
It has been shown to help repair muscle injuries and research from 2015 found that a group of elderly patients given vitamin D supplementation experienced approximately half as many falls as a group of people who were not given the supplement.
Vitamin D helps to build strong healthy bones so vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis. The relationship between vitamin D and several diseases is being studied. There is some evidence suggesting adequate vitamin D levels may reduce the risk of conditions like multiple sclerosis and colorectal cancer.
Let’s hope the studies find some conclusive evidence, but in the meantime, get your parents to stock up on vitamin D to help their brain, muscle, and bone health.
Source: Get the right dose of Vitamin D – http://www.medicaldaily.com/vitamin-d-deficiency-linked-faster-decline-cognitive-function-among-older-adults-352508
Some useful links:
Study to examine the link between vitamin D and cognitive decline –
Cancer Council recommendations on sunlight exposure –
Article by Chris Jones Osteo on vitamin D’s effect on repairing muscle injuries –
Research on vitamin D’s impact on falls in the elderly –
Chris Jones – Carer’s Circle article on Can a slumped posture affect longevity? –
Photo credit: Senior woman in sun hat