Senior Health : Older Folks Benefit from Sunshine

British researchers say sunshine helps reduced heart disease and diabetes risks in older people.

Dr. Oscar Franco of Warwick Medical School in England and colleagues investigated the association between vitamin D levels in the blood and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in 3,262 people ages 50-70 in China.

The study, published in Diabetes Care, 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 deficiency or insufficiency. The results showed 42.3 percent of these people also had metabolic syndrome -- a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease.

"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," Franco, the study leader, said in a statement.

"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."

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