Years ago, when people spent more time outdoors and sunscreen was for wussies, vitamin D deficiency wasn’t that common. Exposure to sunlight was all your body needed to make enough vitamin D.
But times have changed and studies are finding that over 75% of Americans, young and old, are deficient in vitamin D. Consequently, we’re also seeing what happens to our bodies when we don’t get enough vitamin D, which is essential for a healthy immune system, strong bones and muscles and much more.
Recent studies highlight some of these effects of vitamin D deficiency:
Researchers studying elite NFL football players found that lacking in vitamin D may increase the chance of muscle injuries.
Eighty percent of the football teams they studied had a vitamin D insufficiency. African-American players and players who suffered muscle injuries had significantly lower levels.
Other studies have found similar results in younger athletes as well.
Mobility and Falls Among Seniors
For older adults, vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of losing mobility and falls—two of the biggest fears among seniors for good reason.
Being physically active helps maintain general health and prevent many chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Therefore, losing mobility may lead to an overall decline in health, loss of independence and the ability to enjoy life.
One study reported a 30% increased risk of mobility limitations for those older adults who had low levels of vitamin D, and almost a two-fold higher risk of mobility disability.
Vitamin D plays an important role in muscle function, so it is plausible that low levels of the vitamin could result in the onset of decreased lower muscle strength and physical performance, study authors explained.
Mobility problems often lead to falls--a leading cause of serious injury and the principle reason why older adults enter nursing homes. As many as 40% of people aged 65 and older living outside of nursing homes fall at least once a year, and up to 10% of those who fall will suffer fractures, lacerations, or head injuries.
After reviewing more than 50 clinical trials to assess the best way to prevent falls in older adults living independently at home, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found determined that exercise or physical therapy and vitamin D supplementation can help reduce the risk of falls in people aged 65 and older.
Although the report did not address vitamin D dosage, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) call for people at increased risk for falls to take a supplement of at least 800 international units (IU) of the vitamin a day.
Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?
The daily recommended amounts vary by age, so be sure to read this post and speak with your doctor if you think you might be lacking vitamin D.
With widespread deficiency in this nutrient, many doctors now check serum vitamin D levels during regular check-ups.
If you are deficient, vitamin D supplements are a quick and easy way to get your Vitamin D levels back to normal.
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