WASHINGTON - Older people can reduce their risk of developing heart disease and diabetes by spending more time in the sunshine, a new study has suggested.
Sunlight boosts vitamin D in the skin and older people are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency due to the natural aging process and changes in lifestyle.
In the new study, researchers at the University of Warwick have shown vitamin D deficiency is significantly associated with metabolic syndrome, a combination of medical and metabolic disorders that increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
For the study, a research team, led by Dr Oscar Franco at Warwick Medical School, studied the association between vitamin D levels in the blood and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in 3,262 people aged 50-70 years old in China.
Franco and colleagues found a high correlation between low vitamin D levels and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome.
They found 94 percent of people in the study had a vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) deficiency or insufficiency. The results showed 42.3 percent of these people also had metabolic syndrome.
Franco said there were many factors which could explain why older people had less vitamin D in their blood, including changes in lifestyle factors such as clothing and outdoor activity.
“As we get older our skin is less efficient at forming vitamin D and our diet may also become less varied, with a lower natural vitamin D content. Most importantly, however, the dermal production of vitamin D following a standard exposure to UVB light decreases with age because of atrophic skin changes. When we are older we may need to spend more time outdoors to stimulate the same levels of vitamin D we had when we were younger,” he said.
The study is published in Diabetes Care journal. (ANI)