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health expert Dr John

Could this vitamin keep you out of the nursing home

Getting older happens to everyone, including you. It starts to seem like you have more candles than cake every year. You move around more slowly. Routine tasks like cleaning, gardening and DIY become more and more challenging.

The pundits will tell you there is nothing that can be done about aging. But is that really true? Do we really have to just “learn to live with” aging. The second we resign ourselves to getting old is the second closer to complete inactivity, and given we are encouraged to remain active throughout our lives, if you suddenly find yourself getting exhausted from routine tasks like going upstairs or taking a short walk, it could be that you are running low on a particularly critical vitamin, according to an in depth six-year study from the Netherlands.

You could be running low on Vitamin D

The study followed 1,300 people aged 55 to 88 and had their vitamin D levels checked at various times throughout the study. Participants were questioned about their ability to do a range of activities. The tasks were simple in nature, such as sitting down or getting up from a chair, or taking a five minute stroll without resting.

Participants in the 65 to 88 age group who had the lowest vitamin D levels were 1.7 times as likely to have at least one physical limitation when compared to those with high levels. Shockingly, a staggering 70 percent of those with the lowest D levels in the older group had at least one mobility issue.

If you are in the 55 to 65 age range, don’t think you somehow dodged the bullet. You may find that your prognosis is worse than for older age groups. If you’re between those ages and have low vitamin D levels you’re twice as likely to have at least one limitation.

And the news doesn’t get any better as you age. Your physical functionality is likely to worsen over time. Older study participants with low vitamin D levels declined much more more rapidly than their cohorts who had high levels.

Seniors tend to be deficient in vitamin D

That is corroborated by the Guide to Good Health. Vitamin D levels, in fact, are declining across all age groups, and seniors are particularly vulnerable. In fact, there is some evidence to indicate that vitamin D levels are dangerously low for several age groups. Up to 90 percent of the senior citizens walking around have extremely low vitamin D levels.

Regardless of age, it is important to ensure you maintain high vitamin D levels. It is a critical part of staying healthy, as it plays an important role in countless bodily functions. It also is a key player in the maintenance of muscle and bone health. The study from the Netherlands, published in the Journal of Clincial Endocrinology and Metabolism, clearly indicates just how critical it is to prevent your vitamin D levels from falling.

So unless you want to spend the last few years of your life in a nursing home make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin D. I cannot stress this enough. It could make the difference of continuing to enjoy your freedom and independence instead of depending on others for your daily needs.

And vitamin D can help prevent you from falling. A review of nine clinical trials found that vitamin D supplements help reduce the risk of falling by a whopping 17 percent. The New England Journal of Medicine also found that high doses of vitamin D reduces the risk of hip fractures by up to 30 percent and other types of fractures were lowered by 14 percent.

Your vitamin D levels can naturally increase with sunlight exposure. If your arms and legs are exposed in the sun, you improve your sun exposure by a fair margin. Supplements are also a viable option, and if your vitamin D levels are at critical levels, I think you would benefit from a vitamin D supplement of anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 IU's of vitamin D3 daily. Talk with your doctor about what's best for your specific situation.

In addition, I recommend that vitamin D be combined with a healthy fat, such as olive or fish oil, which are high in Omega 3 and 6 – vitamins which are also of great benefit to you. These fats will help your body absorb the vitamin more effectively.

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