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Vitamin S prolongs your life

Vitamin S - in other words, the total amount of social contact in your life - extends your life expectancy. But as you age, you need more and more, according to a study published in the Journal of Aging and Health.

Vitamin S prolongs your life

The study in question was done by Patricia Thomas of the Population Research Center [], part of the University of Texas at Austin.

For her study Thomas used data on 1667 over-sixties, gathered between 1986 and 2005 for the Americans' Changing Lives Survey. The participants had answered questions about their social contacts. Thomas therefore knew how often the participants spoke with friends, neighbours and members of the family; how often they visited with these people; how often they went to religious or other kinds of meetings, and how many hours a week they spent doing voluntary work.

Based on these data, Thomas divided the participants over five groups, or classes. The biggest group was Class 1. The study participants in Class 1 initially had many social contacts, but those contacts faded over time.

Vitamin S prolongs your life

The smallest group was Class 4. The study participants in this group actually got more social contacts over time.

Then Thomas determined the mortality risk in each of the five classes. This was highest in Class 5: the group of people with relatively few social contacts when the study began and with even fewer as the study progressed.

Before compiling the table below - click for a larger version - the researchers set the Class 5 mortality to 1.

Vitamin S prolongs your life

If you are ill, and you can no longer leave the house, for example, it is very difficult to get enough Vitamin S. Physical health is a prerequisite for a social life.

When Thomas smoothed out this effect with statistics [Model 5], it became clear when exactly Vitamin S has a life-prolonging effect: if you have been taking in a lot of it throughout your life and if you increase the dose a little further as you get older.

"This suggests that social integration through social engagement can be important for mortality risk", Thomas concludes. "However, this protection may depend on maintaining high levels of social engagement over time."

J Aging Health. 2012 Jun; 24(4): 547-68.

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Psychology of Longevity

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Loneliness is unhealthy, and researchers at Ohio State University may have discovered why.