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While senior citizens are at risk for several chronic health conditions, new research suggests that a vitamin D deficiency is especially dangerous for elderly people who may be considered frail. Based on this study, these individuals may benefit from a lab test that measures levels of the nutrient.
Scientists have taken a great amount of interest in the effects of vitamin D deficiency. In order to investigate the consequences of this condition among the elderly, scientists from Oregon State University conducted a study on more than 4,300 adults aged 60 and older.
For the purposes of the experiment, frailty was defined as having at least three of five criteria: weak muscles, exhaustion, slow walking, unintentional weight loss and low physical activity.
The researchers found that frail study participants who had low levels of vitamin D had triple the mortality risk of individuals who had normal levels of the nutrient and were not frail.
"We want the older population to be able to live as independent for as long as possible, and those who are frail have a number of health problems as they age," said lead author Ellen Smit. "A balanced diet including good sources of vitamin D like milk and fish, and being physically active outdoors, will go a long way in helping older adults to stay independent and healthy for longer."
A lab test may help identify which senior citizens are at risk.
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