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Supplements best for elderly

2nd February 2006

Studies have supported the use of vitamin supplements in older people, despite conflicting claims over the benefits of such treatments.

Researchers have been involved in a long running debate over whether natural sunlight, diet or supplements are the best and most effective method of increasing vitamin D levels.

While some believe that ten to 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight every day is the best option, others argue that this is an irresponsible approach and that rising levels of skin cancer indicate that dietary supplements are the way forward.

"Fortunately, there is a noncarcinogenic alternative - intestinal absorption of vitamin D from fortified foods and/or dietary supplements," agreed researchers in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatologists reports that the use of supplements is recommended in those who are not exposed to the sun on a regular basis such as elderly or housebound people.

Retail figures indicate that many people are happy to rely on supplements, with increases of 400 per cent on the sale of vitamin D in some areas, while new debates are focussing on whether the recommended daily amount of the vitamin should be extended.