Elderly? Get some sunshine to prevent falls

May 5th, 2011 - 5:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, May 5 (IANS) It’s a good idea for older people to get some sunshine regularly. For, it helps maintain adequate Vitamin D levels which in turn can prevent falls.

A study by Neuroscience Research Australia found that low Vitamin D levels are associated with falls in the elderly, particularly men.

“Sunshine and Vitamin D are essential for maintaining our physical strength and cognitive abilities,” says Jasmine Menant of Neuroscience, reports the journal Osteoporosis International.

“Our study shows the importance of ensuring that Vitamin D levels are adequate in all older people, particularly as the benefits seem to extend beyond cognition and the musculoskeletal system to our ability to prevent ourselves from falling.”

Vitamin D is produced by the skin after exposure to sunlight. Also, many older people spend more time indoors due to frailty, immobility or illness and may not be exposed to regular sunshine.

Menant and colleagues investigated the relationship between Vitamin D levels and falls in people aged 70-90 years living in the community, according to a Neuroscience Research statement.

The team found that approximately one third of participants were Vitamin D deficient. These people were also weaker, had a slower reaction time, poorer balance and slower gait, and performed worse in cognitive function tests.

In the men, Vitamin D insufficiency was associated with an increase in falls.

“In particular, those with lower cognitive and physical performance may benefit from spending more time outdoors or taking Vitamin D supplements,” Menant says.

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