A recent study found that women with higher levels of vitamin D have a lower risk for age-related disease. The researchers studied 2,160 women ages 1879, collected information about lifestyle and risk factors such as smoking and exercise, and measured blood indicators of inflammation and disease.

Specifically, the lengths of telomeres, parts of white blood cells, were measured. Longer telomeres are associated with lower inflammation and lower incidence of age-related diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and bone and joint disorders. Higher blood concentrations of vitamin D were connected to longer telomere length. The difference between the shortest telomeres and the longest equaled approximately five years of life, suggesting that vitamin D could increase lifespan by lowering the risk of age-related diseases.

The study made no recommendations for dosages of vitamin D although the current DV is 200 IU for adults under 50 and 400 IU for those 50 and older, which some medical experts believe is too low. Susan Harris, DSc, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University, recommends adults aim for 1,000 IU per day. Vitamin D is synthesized by the body from sunlight and can be found in fatty fish, milk, eggs, beef, and cheese. If you can handle the taste, infamous cod liver oil packs a whopping 1,360 IU per tablespoon.