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Vitamin D Important for Mobility Later in Life

As our bodies age, mobility and physical function begin to decrease. Lack of exercise has been identified as one cause of loss of mobility, and a new study suggests that lack of vitamin D may also decrease mobility.

The study was published online ahead of print on May 9, 2012, in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

Researchers with Wake Forest University analyzed data from 2,099 mature adults who participated in the Health, Aging and Body Composition study. This study specifically looked at the link between vitamin D levels and the onset of mobility issues in more mature adults.

29% of the participants were found to have blood levels of vitamin D below 50 nmol/L and 36% had blood levels of vitamin D between 50 and 75 nmol/L. That means that 65% of the participants had vitamin D blood levels lower than the recommended 75 nmol/L.

Participants in the study were followed for six years and tests were conducted semiannually to determine mobility limitation and disability. The researchers found that the individuals with lower than the recommended levels of vitamin D had a 30% increased risk of reduced mobility when compared to the individuals who had levels over 75 nmol/L.

Vitamin D plays a vital role in muscle function, which would explain why low levels would impact muscle strength and physical performance.

Vitamin D, sometimes referred to as “the sunshine vitamin,” has been associated with a wide range of health benefits, including improved kidney health, reductions in skin cancer, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, improved cardiovascular health, combating diabetes, and improving age related eye degeneration.

Dietary vitamin D can be found in milk, fortified cereals, fish, and eggs. Your body also processes vitamin D from the sun but it becomes harder for our bodies to process vitamin D as we age. This can be a particular problem for people living in the northern hemisphere, where sunlight is scarce for much of the year. 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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