Study links vitamin D to quality of life

September 12, 2014 by Jacquie Lycka, University of Alberta
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: … 0696-6/fulltext.html

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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?
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/
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.
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...

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