Vitamin D deficiency linked to risk of premature death – 4 common sign

Dr Ellie on why people should be taking Vitamin D supplements

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Vitamins are essential for our bodies to function correctly. Without certain nutrients we can become fatigued and other symptoms that make day-to-day life a challenge. It could even have an impact on how long you live.

A study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, made a connection between levels of the vitamin and longevity.

Created by the body from sunlight, vitamin D is also found in foods such as oily fish and eggs.

It works to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

Common symptoms of a deficiency include:

  • Fatigue
  • Bone pain
  • Muscle weakness, muscle aches or muscle cramps
  • Mood changes, like depression.

Now, the research from the University of South Australia provides evidence that vitamin D deficiency is associated with premature death.

Speaking in a university release, lead study author Josh Sutherland, explained: “While severe vitamin D deficiency is rarer in Australia than elsewhere in the world, it can still affect those who have health vulnerabilities, the elderly, and those who do not acquire enough vitamin D from healthy sun exposure and dietary sources.

“Our study provides strong evidence for the connection between low levels of vitamin D and mortality, and this is the first study of its kind to also include respiratory disease related mortality as an outcome.”

As part of the research, 307,601 records from the UK Biobank database were analysed.

Low levels of vitamin D were classified as less than 25 nanomoles per litre (nmol/L) with the average concentration found to be 45.2 nmol/L.

The team discovered that the risk for death significantly decreased with raised vitamin D concentrations over a 14-year period, with the strongest effects seen among those with severe deficiencies.

Mr Sutherland said: “We used a new genetic method to explore and affirm the non-linear relationships that we’ve seen in observational settings, and through this we’ve been able to give strong evidence for the connection between low vitamin D status and premature death.

“Vitamin D deficiency has been connected with mortality, but as clinical trials have often failed to recruit people with low vitamin D levels – or have been prohibited from including vitamin deficient participants – it’s been challenging to establish causal relationships.”

Senior investigator and director of UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health, Professor Elina Hyppönen, believed further research is now needed.

“The take-home message here is simple – the key is in the prevention,” she said.

“It is not good enough to think about vitamin D deficiency when already facing life-challenging situations, when early action could make all the difference.

“It is very important to continue public health efforts to ensure the vulnerable and elderly maintain sufficient vitamin D levels throughout the year.”

According to the NHS, “most people” should be able to get enough vitamin D from sunlight between the end of March to the end of September.

Sources of vitamin D in food include:

  • Oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified foods – such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals.

You can also take supplements in tablet form if you are unable to get enough through sunlight and food.

However, you should not take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day.

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