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Low Vitamin D Levels Associated With Reduced Mobility in Later Years

As we age, it gets harder and harder for our bodies to process vitamin D from the sun and that can have serious physical consequences. For example, a recent study suggests that people who have low vitamin D levels in their 50’s are more likely to experience difficulty performing necessary daily activities.

To determine the correlation between vitamin D serum levels and mobility, the researchers examined data from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, which included 2,622 participants grouped into a “younger” cohort (mean age 60) and an “older” cohort (mean age 75.3).

The researchers asked the participants to perform six different actions that are important to daily life. They were:

1. Walking up and down 15 stairs without rest;

2. Dressing and undressing;

3. Sitting down and standing up from a chair;

4. Cutting toenails;

5. Walking outside for five minutes without rest;

6. Using personal or public transportation.

At the onset of the study, 56% of the older cohort and 30% of the younger cohort had at least one limitation. They also had 48% and 41% vitamin D deficiency, respectively.

At the three-year mark, 15% of the older cohort reported at least two more physical limitations, which increased to 20% at the six year mark. For the younger cohort, the numbers were 6% at three years and 8% at six years.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found a significant correlation between vitamin D deficiency and developing two additional limitations at the three-year mark with the older cohort and at the six-year mark with the younger cohort.

Researchers from VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on July 17, 2013, in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Previous studies have shown that vitamin D may improve kidney health, reduce the risk of skin cancer, combat diabetes, and improve age related eye degeneration.

Vitamin D can be found in milk, fortified cereals, fish, and eggs. A high quality vitamin D supplement is always a good option if you feel that you’re not getting enough through diet and sun.

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