It's often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, and now new research shows that vitamin D could prolong your life. According to a study by researchers from the University of South Australia, there is a causal relationship between vitamin D deficiency and premature death. For the study, the researchers recruited over 300,000 individuals, aged 37-73, from the UK Biobank. They obtained the participants' genetic data, as well as their vitamin D serum levels. Over a 14-year follow-up period, the researchers recorded all-cause mortality and deaths caused by cancer, cardiovascular disease respiratory disease. At the end of the research period, there had been 18,700 deaths. Further analysis revealed that the risk of death decreased significantly with increasing vitamin D levels, but that this effect plateaued when serum levels reached 50 nmol/L. “In this study, we found evidence for a benefit across all the main causes of death, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory disease-related mortality,” said study author Elina Hypponen, PhD, a University of South Australia professor and director of the Australian Centre for Precision Health. “However, in most cases, any benefit for increasing vitamin D levels was restricted to those individuals who have very low concentrations,” she added. *Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay
Previous research has indicated a link between vitamin D supplements and a reduced risk of autoimmune diseases. Omega-3 supplements have also been shown to have a similar effect. Now, a new study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has underlined these links. According to the trial involving 25,871 adults, with an average age of 67 years, taking vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplements for 5 years reduced the occurrence of autoimmune disease in older individuals by 25–30%, compared with not taking them. Presented the findings at the American College of Rheumatology’s ACR Convergence 2021, senior author of the research, Dr. Karen Costenbader, director of the Lupus Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said: “The reduced incidence of RA and polymyalgia rheumatica are very important for rheumatology. “The more pronounced effect after 2–3 years of use with vitamin D makes sense biologically and supports long-term use.” In the final analysis, the incidence of autoimmune disease was reduced by 25–30% for participants who took vitamin D supplements, omega-3 fatty acid supplements, or both, compared with people who took only placebos. Co-author Prof. JoAnn Manson added: "The findings are exciting because no other preventive therapies are available to reduce the risk of developing these serious health conditions.” *Image by Kirsten ter Borg from Pixabay
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says nearly half of American adults are living with high blood pressure (hypertension). Left untreated, this hypertension can lead to serious cardiovascular conditions, such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure. Individuals with hypertension are often advised to reduce their salt intake, as doing so can help reduce blood pressure levels. Now, a group of researchers from Pennsylvania State University has decided to investigate the health effects of herbs and spices, particularly whether they can benefit people with hypertension. The researchers conducted a randomized, controlled trial to look at the effect of longer-term consumption of herbs and spices on risk factors for cardiovascular disease. They found that a higher level of herbs and spices in food reduced 24-hour blood pressure readings. The findings appear in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Speaking to Medical News Today, Prof. Penny Kris-Etherton, one of the lead authors of the study, said: “Indeed, the blood pressure-lowering effects of herbs and spices in an average Western diet were surprising to me. “We [already know] about the effects of many lifestyle factors, especially dietary factors, that can increase blood pressure — such as sodium, alcohol, and caffeine — and others that can decrease blood pressure, such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium, […] weight loss, physical activity, and some vitamins, including folate and vitamin D when intake is low, but the blood pressure-lowering effects of herbs and spices are new!” *Image by monicore from Pixabay
It’s one of the telltale signs that someone’s recently been on holiday, but according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK, there is no safe or healthy way to get a suntan from sunlight. NICE also said that having an existing tan provides little protection against harmful UV rays and advises adults to use at least 6-8 teaspoons of factor 15 sun cream per application. Many adults in the UK have low levels of vitamin D and NICE says that these can be build up through exposure to sunlight. However, the benefits of increased levels of vitamin D need to be weighed up against the risks associated with skin cancer. The NICE guidelines specifically state that babies and children; people with fair skin or hair; people with lots of moles or freckles; and people with a family history of skin cancer should take extra care in the sun. Professor Gillian Leng, director of health and social care at NICE, said: "How much time we should spend in the sun depends on a number of factors including geographical location, time of day and year, weather conditions and natural skin colour. "People with lighter skin, people who work outside and those of us who enjoy holidays in sunny countries all have a higher risk of experiencing skin damage and developing skin cancer. "On the other hand, people who cover up for cultural reasons, are housebound or otherwise confined indoors for long periods of time are all at higher risk of low vitamin D levels." The full NICE guidelines can be found on the organisation’s website here.
With summer almost upon us, and many parts of Europe already experiencing beautiful warm weather, it’s important to remember that your body is more likely to use the important nutrients it stores to remain at optimum health. So follow this brief guide to make sure you feel at your best during the summer months: 1. Drink plenty of water. This is particularly important if you’re in an extreme hot climate at any point. Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol as these will only make you dehydrate which can lead to loss of strength and stamina, and in severe cases it can affect your kidney function resulting in painful kidney stones. 2. Eat raw foods. Summertime brings an abundance of superb fresh produce ready to pick from the tree or ground – or buy from the super market! But wherever you get it, make your mealtimes as colourful as possible. And the less you cook this fresh produce, the better it is foryour health. Your body will take all the goodness and nutrients on offer to help revitalise and energise you. 3. Get active outdoors. Ditch the gym membership and get outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and vitamin D. Both will invigorate your body and help clear your mind from your everyday stresses and worries. Of course, if you are unwell during this time and need a consultation or treatment, contact ourInternational Patient Services team who are on hand to make your medical plan easier. Photo credit: © vinzoun - Fotolia.com