Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of metabolic syndrome that is linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Spending more time in the sun could help older people cut their risk, a study at Warwick University suggests. "As we get older our skin is less efficient at forming vitamin D and our diet may also become less varied," explains lead researcher Dr. Oscar Franco. Additionally, we may tend to dress more conservatively and cover ourselves up more.
Among 50 - 70 year-olds living in China that the scientists studied, 94 percent had a vitamin D deficiency and 42 percent also had metabolic syndrome. The results were replicated in British and American populations. Ed Yong of Cancer Research UK says the amount of sunlight it takes to make enough vitamin D is always less than the amounts that lead to an increase in the risk of skin cancer. He adds, "The elderly can also boost their vitamin D levels by eating foods like oily fish, or by using vitamin D supplements on the advice of their GP."