The need of adequate vitamin D intake has been emphasized quite often as it has a big impact on the bone health. Vitamin D is also known to affect several chronic diseases in various ways. A recent study by University of Alberta reveals that people who are 50 years or more can significantly improve the quality of life by getting more sun exposure or by taking vitamin D supplements.
Health Canada and the Institute of Medicine recommend a supplementation of 600 IU per day for adults and for those more than 70 years old; the recommended intake is 800 IU. For people living in countries like Canada making the effort to get enough of Vitamin D is more important as the sun exposure can be very limited at times. Despite the efforts by the health authorities to increase the awareness about getting adequate vitamin D, vitamin D deficiency is prevalent among Canadians.
Experts are of the opinion that Vitamin D is important for the bone health. However, there has been little research about its relationship with the overall quality of life. A recent research published by Paul Veugelers, professor in the School of Public Health reveals that sun rays are more beneficial for our well-being than previously known. Veugelers along with his team of fellow researchers carried an experiment to study the health-quality of life in seniors. The study has been published in a research paper titled Quality of Life. For this study about 1500 people of 50 years or more participated and their blood samples were taken in order to assess the vitamin D levels. They were also asked to fill a questionnaire to provide an assessment of five factors that would help in quantifying health related quality of life. These five factors included self-care, their personal mobility, everyday activities, pain or discomfort and anxiety or depression.
When the results of this experiment were studied, it revealed that there is a clear relationship between higher vitamin D levels and a better quality of life. Veugelers says “In other words: you don’t feel well? Sit in the sun or take some vitamin D supplements.” Problems related to everyday activities, mobility, feeling of anxiety or depression is very much associated with low vitamin D levels. 8% of the participants in the study had low vitamin D levels. That is a low percentage which Veugelers think could be attributed to the fact that the participants were already health conscious. That is why they look part in a lifestyle counselling program. They could be already vitamin D supplements. So, Veugelers is of the opinion that the rate of vitamin D deficiency is likely to be higher in the general population.
Canadians in general are aware of the effect of climate on their health and vitamin D levels. However, there is a need to create greater awareness about the same. Veugelers and his team are now studying the seniors who reported lower vitamin D. They will observe if by including vitamin D supplements, the health related quality of life in them enhances. He recommends that seniors should ensure that they follow the Health Canada's vitamin D intake for a better quality of life.
In the words of Veugelers – “A health issue like this requires multiple interventions, but has potential impact on many areas of health, from chronic diseases to mental health. A better understanding of vitamin D benefits Canadians in many ways, so we hope our research will help people lead healthier, happier lives.”
The research carried out by Veugelers and team was funded by Pure North S’Energy Foundation. Its aim was investigate nutrition, chronic disease prevention, vitamin D and population health. The research activities by the team at University of Alberta are overseen by a science advisory committee, which consists of other university researchers who are experts in the field of health, nutrition and chronic disease prevention.