A new study by researchers at the University of Colorado shows vitamin D plays a vital role in reducing the risk of death associated with older age.
The research, published in the September 2009 issue of Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, evaluated the association between vitamin D levels in the blood and the death rates of those 65 and older using data from more than 3,400 participants of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Compared to those with optimal vitamin D status, those with low vitamin D levels were 3 times more likely to die from heart disease and 2.5 times more likely to die from any cause.
Older adults are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency because their skin has less exposure to the sun due to more limited outdoor activities as well as reduced ability to make vitamin D.
The Canadian Cancer Society recommends 1,000 international units of vitamin D a day in fall and winter, and year round for those over 50 or with darker skin. Supplements are an important source of vitamin D as it's impossible to get the recommended amount from food alone.
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