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Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Brain Imbalance

An unexpected risk factor for the potentially fatal falls suffered by many elderly people has been discovered--vitamin D deficiency. Researchers in Australia found that being severely deficient increased the risk of falls and that supplements reduced their number. Vitamin D is best known for its role in healthy bones, but there is growing evidence that it is also essential for muscle and brain function. A decrease in either of these could cause old people to fall.

Yet another benefit for vitamin D. This may seem trivial but please consider that this is a major killer for the elderly. Many people who fall fracture their hips and a large percentage of those who are bed ridden from the injury develop a fatal blood clot (pulmonary embolism). Not only will vitamin D decrease the likelihood of falling to begin with, but it will also increase the bone density and decrease the risk of hip fracture even if one falls.

However, decreased falls and hip fracture is one of vitamin D's relatively minor benefits. Reducing the risk of nearly all cancers and automimmune diseases like MS and rheumatoid arthritis is a far more significant issue. Please remember that we are entering the two months of the year when the sunlight is the lowest in the northern hemisphere. So even if you live in Texas or Florida you are not getting enough UVB to generate sufficient vitamin D levels. Virtually everyone in the United States benefits from taking cod liver oil this time of year. In my own practice I find that the vitamin D in cod liver oil is insufficient for nearly half of my patients and they require up to 15,000 units of additional vitamin D every day to maintain healthy levels. However, I perform vitamin D testing on all my patients, and I would strongly recommend that you do that for yourself. Virtually any commercial lab can run this test. So do yourself a favor and check your vitamin D levels soon.

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society December 2003 vol 51, p 1533

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