Vitamin D and Mortality – In the News

Improving vitamin D levels in Older Age is Linked to Lower risk of all-cause Mortality

Sources: BMC Geriatr 22, 245 (2022)
LIfe Extension, Feb. 2023

Judith E. Brown. Nutrition Now, 7th Edition

The participants in this study included 1,362 individuals in the Chinese Longitudinal and Health Longitudinal Survey, aged 60 to 113 whose serum vitamin D levels were measured in 2012 and 2014. Mortality data were collected in 2018.

Deficient vitamin D levels were detected in 67.5% of the participants in 2012 and 68.4% in 2014.

During follow-up, 420 deaths occurred. Individuals who were deficient in vitamin D in 2012 and 2014 had more than twice the mortality risk than those who maintained higher levels.

Among participants who maintained sufficient vitamin D were deficient in 2012 and not deficient in 2014, the risk of dying was 30% and 53% lower, respectively, compared to participants who were deficient at both points in time.

This highlights the need to address vitamin D deficiency in older individuals to support longevity and healthy aging.

Editor’s Note: The greatest benefit associated with improved vitamin D status was found among women and those people who were 80 years of age or older.

What are the primary functions of vitamin D? This fat-soluble vitamin is needed for absorption of calcium and phosphorus needed for bone formation and muscle activity. It inhibits inflammation and is involved in insulin secretion and blood glucose level maintenance. It can be toxic with the long term use of 10,000 IU daily. The RDA is 600 IU for adult women and men; the Upper Tolerable Intake (UL) is 4,000 IU.s or 100 ug.

This highlights the need to address vitamin D deficiency in older individuals. Based on the evidence for bone benefits, however, a nutrition panel recently increased the RDA for vitamin D to 600 IU for people up to age 70 and to 800 IU for those over 70. That’s a fairly sizable boost over the previous recommendations of 200 IU per day through age 50, 400 IU for ages 51 to 70, and 600 IU for ages over 70. They also raised the safe upper limit of daily intake for most age groups from 2,000 to 4,000 IU. to support longevity and healthy aging. 1 microgram vitamin D = 40 IU as both terms are used on supplement labels. It is primarily found only in vitamin D-fortified milk, cereals, and other foods such as fish.

The best way to measure effects of supplemental intake or vitamin D status is by a blood test. Vitamin D3 is the most active form and is made from a form of cholesterol in the skin cells upon exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. See your doctor for guidance.

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