Vitamin D tied to seniors' cognitive health

Nutrition is an important part of healthy aging, and this is especially true when it comes to vitamin D. The nutrient plays a key role in helping seniors maintain independent living, and two new studies suggest it may also improve the mental health of older women.

One of the studies, published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, came from the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis where researchers analyzed the vitamin D levels of more than 6,250 older women. The team found that those who had lower levels of the vitamin had a greater chance of cognitive impairment.

The second batch of research was performed by scientists at France's Angers University Hospital and looked at the vitamin D levels of nearly 500 participants. Researchers determined the subjects who had Alzheimer's disease were more likely to have a lower vitamin intake than those who developed no dementia at all.

The results provide further evidence of the important role vitamin D plays in the lives of seniors. Over the summer, an expansive analysis of a number of studies identified that a daily dose of vitamin D could significantly reduce the risk of  broken bones, something that could threaten senior health.

"It clearly showed a reduction in fracture risk in people who were getting vitamin D," Dr. Richard Bockman told Reuters Health.

Aside from a daily supplement, there are some other options seniors can choose to get vitamin D. Fish is a good source of the nutrient, with salmon and tuna being two of the best choices. Eggs are also an effective option along with fortified cereals.