People generally tend to get frail and weak in older age, and one of the factors that contribute to this frailty is Vitamin D deficiency. Experts suggest that frailty is characterized by losing grip in hands, sudden weight loss, frequent exhaustion, decrease in walking speed, and lesser physical activity. If a person shows at least three of these features, doctors suggest that they are frail.
Frailty increases as a person ages and nearly half of the individuals above 85 years of age experience these symptoms. These symptoms are associated with dependence on other people, disability, and increased death rate.
According to research, people with Vitamin D deficiency tend to get frail over time and data shows that nearly 1 million individuals around the world have this deficiency. Vitamin contributes to a healthier body by strengthening bones, teeth, and a better immune response against respiratory infections.
Our body has the ability to produce an adequate amount of Vitamin through sun exposure. Meanwhile, many people residing in western countries do not get enough sunlight during winter. During this time, they can use supplements and a diet rich in Vitamin D.
According to the National Academy of Medicine, a person ranging from age 17 to 70 years should take a Vitamin D dosage of 600 IU. Meanwhile, people above 70 years of age should take 800 IU every day.
Recently, a team of researchers conducted a study to optimize the Vitamin D requirement to fulfill its deficiency. These researchers suggest that a higher dosage of this vitamin can help overcome the deficiency.
The study was published recently in the journal Nutrients.
The researchers conducted this study in lab mice and the findings show that Vitamin D deficiency leads to frailty in older age. Kenneth L. Seldeen, Ph.D., the lead author of this study said that the old mice showed physical decline due to low levels of Vitamin D in blood. The mice experienced reduced grip after one month of decrease in Vitamin D dosage.
The researchers mentioned that the mice were physically healthy only when they received the vitamin over the recommended dosage. Seldeen said that they supplemented mice with a higher dosage to reduce signs of frailty. Hence, humans might need a higher dosage to overcome debility in older age.
According to this study, humans need a Vitamin D dosage of 4,000 IU every day to keep the signs of frailty at bay. This dosage is the upper safe limit according to the National Academy of Medicine.
A significant limitation of this study is that the researchers only conducted this in mice. Therefore, it does not show the effects on humans. Hence, we still have the question of optimum dosage required b humans to slow the process of frailty.
The authors mentioned that they need at least 5 years long clinical trial to prove these findings true in humans. However, it is not safe to test the varying dosage of Vitamin D in humans for a period of five years. Hence, it is a risk for the researcher to test these findings on humans and suitable for an animal model.