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Vitamin D 'may reduce muscle weakness in later life'

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The research from Trinity College says that maintaining muscle function throughout life is crucial for ageing well. Stock Image

The research from Trinity College says that maintaining muscle function throughout life is crucial for ageing well. Stock Image

The research from Trinity College says that maintaining muscle function throughout life is crucial for ageing well. Stock Image

Older people who have low levels of vitamin D have poorer muscle function, according to an Irish study.

The research from Trinity College says that maintaining muscle function throughout life is crucial for ageing well.

It helps support a good quality of life, mobility and independence, while also reducing the risk of falls and frailty.

Although resistance exercise is known to conserve muscle function, there is growing research showing that getting adequate vitamin D levels also offers a protective effect.

The Trinity researchers found the prevalence of muscle weakness was double that in those who were deficient in vitamin D - at 40pc, compared with 22pc of those who had adequate levels of the vitamin.

They looked at data on 4,100 adults aged 60 or older.

Impaired muscle performance was also three times higher among those deficient in the vitamin at 25pc.

Older adults who regularly undertook moderate physical activity had a much lower likelihood of poor muscle strength and physical performance.

Lead author Dr Niamh Aspell said: "Overall, our findings add weight to the evidence in favour of public health strategies to eliminate vitamin D deficiency in older populations. Future research should identify and focus on older adults with vitamin D deficiency and aim to better understand if reversing this deficiency improves skeletal muscle function."

Some countries, such as Finland, have successfully implemented a vitamin D food fortification policy, which has all but eliminated deficiency in the population.

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This could similarly be implemented in Ireland to help older people.


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