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Saturday 26th May 2018

Older people need more sunshine

18th May 2009

A study of older people in China has found that more sunlight may be beneficial for the elderly.

Old Hands

Older people could cut their risk of heart disease and diabetes if they get more sun exposure to the skin, which helps the skin manufacture vitamin D.

Older people usually have too little of the vitamin in their blood because of the ageing process, and lifestyle changes.

A vitamin D deficiency increases the risks of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In a study of more than 3,000 50-to-70 year-olds living in China, researchers from Warwick University conclude that older people would benefit from more sunshine.

Cancer experts say that the amount of sunshine needed to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D is always less that the amount that causes reddening or burning, which is a risk factor for skin cancer.

Published in the journal Diabetes Care, the study showed that 94% of participants had not enough vitamin D in their bodies, and that 42% also had metabolic syndrome.

Lead researcher Oscar Franco said similar ratios could be seen in Western populations of older people.

Franco said that older people might need to spend more time outdoors in order to stimulate the same levels of vitamin D that younger people have.

Rsearchers blamed vitamin D deficiency for causing a large burden of disease around the world, particularly among the elderly.

It was commonly associated with an increased risk of having metabolic syndrome and increased insulin resistance.

Metabolic syndrome describes conditions such as obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol which tend to cluster together in the same patient.

It is linked to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The elderly, pregnant women and those who wear clothing that covers them from head to foot are all at risk from reduced levels of vitamin D, which is also obtained from eating oily fish and eggs.

Elderly care experts said elderly people were unlikely to be put at risk of skin cancer from the advice, as they mostly did not get enough sunshine.

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