17 Jaw-Dropping Facts You Didn't Know About the Human Body
8 Surprising Things You Didn't Know Vitamin D Could Do For You
One in three older adults living at home will take a spill each year. But vitamin D supplements seem to help reduce that risk.
In a small study of homebound adults between the ages of 65 and 102 who get food from Meals on Wheels, half were given a monthly allotment of vitamin D supplements that averaged out to 3,300 IU per day and half were given a placebo. Over the 5-month study period, the supplement increased vitamin D levels in their blood from "insufficient" (defined as less than 20 ng/mL) to "optimal" (defined as greater than 30 ng/mL) in 29 of the 34 participants. Compared with the people who got a placebo, those taking vitamin D had about half as many falls at home over the same time period, possibly because of the benefits of vitamin D for muscle performance, the researchers write. (If you're low in vitamin D, here are the 10 worst things that can happen.)
The main reason our vision starts to slip after 50 is because of what's called age-related macular degeneration, a slow-progressing blurriness that starts near the center of the eye and impedes our ability to see clearly straight ahead. Your chances of ending up with AMD are governed mostly by your age, race, and genes—aka, it's pretty much out of your control, although staying generally healthy by avoiding smoking, working up a sweat on the regular, and eating your kale might help you keep your crystal-clear sight. However, a recent suggests that maintaining optimal vitamin D levels can also help, even if the genetic cards are stacked against you.
University of Buffalo researchers crunched the numbers from 913 postmenopausal women who were already part of a Women's Health Initiative study called the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study, or CAREDS. Of those 913 women, 550 had adequate levels of vitamin D and 88 were deficient. The women who fell into the latter category had a higher risk of developing AMD—as much as 6.7 times higher if they also carried a specific form of high-risk genes—than women with sufficient vitamin D.
It's another one of Mother Nature's cruel tricks that it's oh-so-easy to gain weight without even noticing after a certain age. But having enough vitamin D might help slow that process.
In a Journal of Women's Health study of more than 4,600 women 65 or older, those with insufficient vitamin D levels gained 2 more pounds over 4.5 years than those with enough D. (Repeat after us: No more dieting. Ever. Instead, learn how to eat clean—with zero deprivation!—and .)
As if the chronic muscle and joint pain, all-encompassing fatigue, and associated depression and anxiety of fibromyalgia weren't enough, add to the complexity of the disease the difficulty many patients have getting a diagnosis to begin with. So hearing that something as comparatively simple as supplementing with vitamin D can bring relief might be welcome news.
A small 2014 gave women either vitamin D supplements or a placebo for 20 weeks, then monitored the women for another 24. Even after the treatment ended, the women who had been taking vitamin D noted less pain. While it's far from a cure—and it did nothing for mood symptoms—it's something. (Here are 9 highly effective solutions for fibromyalgia from Prevention Premium.)
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