Spending more time in the sun could help older people reduce their risk or developing diabetes of heart disease, it has been suggested.
According to researchers from the University of Warwick, exposure to sunlight can boost the skin's production of vitamin D which in turn reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome, a combination of disorders that can bring on cardiovascular problems and diabetes.
Health screening indicates that people naturally produce less vitamin D as they grow older because of the aging process as well as changes in their lifestyles.
A study of 3,000 people aged from 50 to 70 years-old in China revealed that almost one in two people with a vitamin D deficiency also suffered from metabolic syndrome.
Dr Oscar Franco, leader of the Warwick study, which was published in the journal Diabetes Care, said: "We found that low vitamin D levels were associated with an increased risk of having metabolic syndrome, and was also significantly associated with increased insulin resistance."
Vitamin D is naturally occurring in cod liver oil, fatty fish species such as herring, tuna and mackerel, eggs and UV-irradiated mushrooms.