Researchers at Kings College, London, have found that vitamin D may slow down the ageing process.

Currently the recommended intake from food is set at the equivalent of 50 micrograms per day, but this new research suggests that the daily limit should possibly be raised due to this vitamin?s life extension qualities.

Vitamin D?s main role is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, aiding in the absorption of calcium and helping us to maintain strong bones. It is, however, continually being cited for other health benefits such as protection from hypertension, cancer and several auto-immune diseases.

The evidence

This new piece of research appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, with scientists investigating 2,160 women aged 18 to 79 years. To reach their conclusions they measured ?leukocyte telomere length?, a predictor of age-related diseases found in a person?s DNA. Telomeres shorten as we age, so a longer telomere predicts a greater life expectancy. They also measured for vitamin D storage and found a link between increased concentrations and the length of the telomere.

The researchers found that after taking into account the age of the subject, women with higher levels of vitamin D were more likely to have longer telomeres. The difference between the lowest and highest concentrations of vitamin D provided an estimated difference of five years lifespan! Scientists have suggested increasing the level of vitamin D with the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) to an upper daily limit of 250mg per day.

Layman lowdown

Vitamin D is found in foods such as fish, eggs, fortified milk and cod-liver oil, but the major source of this vitamin is the action of sunlight on the skin. As little as 10 minutes exposure per day provides enough for most to prevent deficiencies. The question here, however, is not just avoiding deficiencies, but having a high enough intake to benefit from the protective effects.

CW says

If you?re not hiding away on the turbo you will find your regular rides will stand you in good stead. If you know you are not going to get out on the bike for a while you can keep the years off by ensuring you include a selection of vitamin D rich foods in your daily diet.