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Senior Health :

Vitamin D Wards Off Dementia

Craig McQueen

IT'S known as the sunshine vitamin, but now researchers claim vitamin D could also help stave off dementia. A study of more than 2000 people aged over 65 found that those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to have impaired understanding than those with the highest levels.

The research was welcomed by Alzheimer's charities, who would now like to see more research. And with 26million people living with dementia, the finding could be a significant development. Why is it the sunshine vitamin?

One of the main sources of vitamin D is sunlight. When we get sun on our bodies, vitamin D forms under the skin. Do foods contain vitamin D?

Vitamin D is found in a small number of foods. Good sources are oily fish and eggs. Other sources include fortified foods such as margarine, breakfast cereals and powdered milk. Liver and liver products are also good sources of vitamin D.

Why is it important?

Vitamin D has a number of important functions. It helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate the body can absorb, which are both needed to keep the teeth and bones healthy. It also helps immune systems. Should I take supplements?

As vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, you don't need to get some every day as your body can store what it doesn't use for the future.

Most people get all they need through their diet and sunlight, but there are some for whom supplements may be worth considering. They include anyone pregnant or breast-feeding, people of Asian origin and people who eat no meat or oily fish. For moreinformation, speak to your GP.

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