Study links vitamin D to quality of life

September 12, 2014 by Jacquie Lycka
Seniors may be able to give their quality of life a boost by getting more sun or taking vitamin D supplements, according to a recent UAlberta study.

Canadians wait for it every year: the annual flight of the snowbirds in winter. Could there be an underlying health reason these birds take flight to sunnier climates? A researcher at the University of Alberta thinks so.

Experts agree that vitamin D is beneficial for bone health, but its relationship to overall quality of life is a little-understood area. However, Paul Veugelers, professor in the School of Public Health, recently published research showing that the sun's rays have a deeper benefit to our well-being.

Veugelers and fellow researchers teamed up to study health-related quality of life in seniors. In the study, published in Quality of Life Research, about 1,500 people participating in lifestyle counselling programs had their blood drawn to assess vitamin D levels. They also answered a questionnaire to provide a self-assessment of five factors used to quantify health-related quality of life: their personal mobility, self-care, , pain or discomfort, and anxiety and depression.

"In this study, we observed a clear relationship between higher vitamin D serum levels and a better quality of life," says Veugelers. "In other words: you don't feel well? Sit in the sun or take some vitamin D supplements."

Participants reported problems with mobility, everyday activities, and depression and anxiety, which had significant associations with vitamin D levels. And about eight per cent of the participants had vitamin D levels below the level recommended by Health Canada.

Veugelers cautions that the low rate of vitamin D deficiency could be attributed to the fact that the study participants included self-selected volunteers. Because they chose to participate in a lifestyle counselling program, participants were considered to be generally more health-conscious, and could already be taking supplements.

But Veugelers also notes that vitamin D deficiency is likely greater in the general population. Although Canadians are aware of the effect that climate has on their vitamin D levels, Veugelers says, there is an opportunity to create greater awareness of vitamin D deficiency in Canada.

The research was funded by Pure North S'Energy Foundation. The funding allows Veugelers, as the Alberta Research Chair in Nutrition and Disease Prevention, to investigate nutrition, chronic disease prevention, vitamin D and population health. The chair's activities are overseen by a science advisory committee, consisting largely of other university researchers with expertise in health, nutrition and chronic disease prevention.

Veugelers and his team are now assessing whether seniors who have low levels of vitamin D have their health-related quality of life increase with the inclusion of vitamin D supplements in their diets. But for now, he suggests that seniors should ensure they follow Health Canada's recommendations and take more vitamin D to increase their quality of life.

"A health issue like this requires multiple interventions, but has potential impact on many areas of health, from chronic diseases to mental . A better understanding of D benefits Canadians in many ways, so we hope our research will help people lead healthier, happier lives."

Explore further: Vitamin D deficiency raises risk of schizophrenia diagnosis

More information: The complete study is available online: link.springer.com/article/10.1 … 0696-6/fulltext.html

Related Stories

Vitamin D deficiency raises risk of schizophrenia diagnosis

July 22, 2014
Vitamin D-deficient individuals are twice as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia as people who have sufficient levels of the vitamin, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical ...

Vitamin D deficiency may reduce pregnancy rate in women undergoing IVF

August 14, 2014
Women with a vitamin D deficiency were nearly half as likely to conceive through in vitro fertilization (IVF) as women who had sufficient levels of the vitamin, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's ...

Vitamin D deficiency linked to increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease

August 8, 2014
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease in older people.

Neonatal vitamin K refusal tied to nonimmunization

August 20, 2014
(HealthDay)—While neonatal vitamin K refusal is rare, parents who refuse vitamin K are less likely to immunize their child, according to a study published online Aug. 18 in Pediatrics.

How much time in the sun for healthy Vitamin D?

September 9, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—A world first QUT study aims to pinpoint the amount of time Queenslanders need to spend in the sun to achieve healthy levels of Vitamin D, by investigating the effect sunlight has on Vitamin D.

Study finds no evidence that vitamin D supplements reduce depression

March 18, 2014
Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in numerous health conditions in recent years, including depressed mood and major depressive disorder. Recent observational studies provide some support for an association of vitamin ...

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

MP3Car
1 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2014
I'm not sure I follow the association being made here... Isn't it possible that people who get out more may have less depression/anxiety, increased mobility, "happier" just because of the fact they are active and doing things rather than sitting inside all day? And as a secondary but possibly unrelated effect is that the people who get out more have higher levels of vitamin D... Take a suntan for example... You wouldn't say having a suntan makes you have higher mobility, makes you enjoy more everyday activities, etc... However, being active, getting out of the house, etc. makes you happier and have better mobility, but as a result, you have more of a suntan... OR, you actually have problems unrelated to the vitamin D, and choose to stay inside, and thus have lower levels of it. Plenty of people have depression/anxiety, pain, etc. that may be unrelated to vitamin D, but because of those things, they choose to stay inside, causing a deficiency. Am I missing something?
JamesWebbsSpaceScope
3 / 5 (2) Sep 19, 2014
You are missing 1000 things. Quite literally. Vitamin D is involved in 1000 gene expressions including serotonin production. There is direct links between vit d and all the quality of life measures outlined in the article.

Vit D is a powerful hormone and wonderful proof of epigenetics in action. The most important supplement a person can take, maybe even more than magnesium and K2.

Most people who have pain, depression, and anxiety have low D. Get yours tested to sure your number is 50 - 60 ng/ml/
JamesWebbsSpaceScope
3 / 5 (2) Sep 19, 2014
For most people(those of us not in hot summer sun everyday), to achieve 50 -60 ng/ml of Vitamin D in the blood, they would need to take somewhere between 4000IU - 8000IU per day of D3.

If your level is below 50 and especially if it's below 30, your body is not doing all kinds of things the way it should be.

This is so basic and so powerful, yet people will continue to be so stupid and not concern themselves with it. I hope you enjoy your feeble bones and low serotonin.

Google Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Vitamin D3 and learn the new and real science behind this powerful, quality of life boosting hormone.
MP3Car
not rated yet Sep 23, 2014
I think you are missing my point. I am not disagreeing about the importance of vitamin D, not in the least. As a matter of fact, I take a daily vitamin D supplement because I recognize its importance and I was low (~15). However, the claim in this article skates on the edge of circular reasoning or false premise fallacies. People with pain and discomfort, for whatever reason, are less likely to do outdoor activities, thus would have less vitamin D, just as I personally have lower levels in the winter because I am not outside near as frequently as I am in the warmer months. Additionally, people with chronic pain from any cause are more likely to have depression.

I assume the study was careful to avoid common fallacies such as circular and false premise, but it was not clear from this article that they were accounted for...

p.s. You didn't have to be rude with the comment, "I hope you enjoy your feeble bones..." Nowhere did I question the importance, I just questioned the logic...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.