News - Vitamin D - the fountain of youth?
As we age, bone and joint diseases, such as osteoporosis and arthritis, become increasingly common, compromising mobility. The good news is that new research, recently presented at the American Society for Nutrition’s Experimental Biology conference, indicates that vitamin D may hold the key to long-lasting physical function.
The researchers, led by Dr Denise Houston, studied the relationship between vitamin D status and physical function in a group of 2,788 relatively healthy seniors living in the US. Blood levels of vitamin D were measured at the start of the study, two years later and then again after four years. These levels were then related to the physical function of the participants, measured by a variety of tests, including how quickly they could walk six metres, how quickly they could rise from a chair five times and how well they maintained their balance when asked to adopt a challenging position. Each participant was also put through a battery of tests assessing endurance and strength.
When the results were tabulated, participants with the highest levels of vitamin D were found to have better physical function. Although physical function declined over the course of the study, it remained significantly higher among those with the highest vitamin D levels, at the beginning of the study, compared to those with the lowest. The scientists were not surprised to learn that, in general, vitamin D consumption was very low in this group of otherwise healthy seniors.
Commenting on the results, Dr Houston said: “Current dietary recommendations are based primarily on vitamin D’s effects on bone health. It is possible that higher amounts of vitamin D are needed for the preservation of muscle strength and physical function as well as other health conditions. However, clinical trials are needed to definitively determine whether increasing 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations through diet or supplements has an effect on these non-traditional outcomes.”
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (2010, April 26). Better vitamin D status could mean better quality of life for seniors.