50+ health * Healthy living

High levels of vitamin D in older people cuts heart disease and diabetes by nearly half

Zone default image Sunshine and oily fish recommended

Older people with high levels of vitamin D cut their their chances of developing heart disease or diabetes by nearly half, new research has found.

The so-called sunshine vitamin is made by our bodies when our skin is exposed to the sun. Fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are good sources of vitamin D.

Researchers from Warwick Medical School analysed the data from 28 studies involving 99,745 people to find out how vitamin D levels in the bloodstream affected a persons's risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

They found that middle aged and elderly people with high levels of vitamin D in their blood reduced their risk of developing heart disease and stroke by 33%, type 2 diabetes by 55% and metabolic syndrome by 51%. Overall, the risk was reduced by almost half (43%).

The results of the study are published in the journal Mauritas.

Study co-author and GP Dr Johanna Parker said: "The research we conducted looked at naturally-occurring vitamin D rather than supplements.

"We recommend people eat a heathy diet with two to three portions of oily fish a week and five portions of fruit and vegetables.

"Most - 90% - of your vitamin D comes from sunshine so we recommend sensible sun exposure in the summer. People should expose themselves for 30 minutes twice a week - this means exposing the face and arms with no sunscreen.

"This would provide the body with adequate vitamin D," she concluded.

This article was published on Tue 16 February 2010

Image © Tomo Jesenicnik - Fotolia.com

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