A study from the University of Warwick in England shows
that more time in the sun can help older people avoid diabetes and
heart attacks (Diabetes Care, July 2009). They evaluated 3,262
people aged 50-70 years old in Beijing and Shanghai, China, and
found that 94 percent were low in vitamin D…
…and 42 percent had metabolic syndrome: abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL and high blood sugar levels. This is consistent with world-wide studies that show that as people age their skin atrophies, reducing their ability to make vitamin D from sunlight. Seniors also usually exercise less so they do not go outside as often.
Since they are more susceptible to cold, they usually wear more
clothing when they do go outside. Inadequate vitamin D increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, certain cancers, arthritis, auto-immune diseases and many other health problems.
A major function of vitamin D is to increase absorption of calcium from food. When vitamin D levels are low, body levels of ionized calcium drop. This forces the parathyroid glands to increase production of parathyroid hormone that blocks insulin receptors, to raise blood sugar levels markedly and increase production of insulin. High levels of insulin constrict coronary arteries to cause heart attacks.
Vitamin D deficiency occurs when the concentration of D3 (25-hydroxy-vitamin D) is less than 75 nmol/L. If you are deficient,
you need to expose skin to more sunlight or take at least 2000 IU
of vitamin D3 per day. To address skin cancer concerns, protect
the most frequently exposed areas, since it is cumulative life-long
exposure to sunlight that increases risk for skin cancer. For most
people, this means you should use sunscreen or wear clothing to
cover your face, scalp, neck, tops of the ears, forearms and hands whenever you will be in the sun for more than 30 minutes.
A practicing physician for more than 40 years and a radio talk show host for 25, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is one of a very few doctors board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology.
Dr. Mirkin's latest book is The Healthy Heart Miracle, published by HarperCollins. His daily short features on fitness have been heard on CBS Radio News stations since the 1970's.
He has written 16 books including The Sportsmedicine Book, the best-selling book on the subject that has been translated into many languages. Dr. Mirkin did his residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital and over the years he has served as a Teaching Fellow at Johns Hopkins Medical School, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, and Associate Clinical Professor in Pediatrics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Read more at www.drmirkin.com.
Latest posts by Dr. Gabe Mirkin (see all)
- Making a Move to Avoid Diabetes and Heart Attacks - September 5, 2011
- Diet Don’ts and Diverticulitis? - August 10, 2011
- The Cooking Method that Could Lead to Cancer and Heart Disease - August 3, 2011