5 Reasons Vitamin D Is a Must-Have for Seniors
A vitamin D deficiency can have serious health effects on seniors. Getting enough of the vitamin through diet, sunlight or supplements can help prevent autoimmune disorders, some cancers, falls, fractures and even high blood pressure.
Learn more about the reasons why vitamin D is a must-have vitamin for seniors.
Benefits of Vitamin D
Essential for strong bones, vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight. It helps the body absorb calcium, which is critical to bone health and strength.
As the Vitamin D Council explains, without the vitamin, our bodies may lose bone tissue, leading to bone pain, muscle weakness and possible skeletal deformity.
We also need the vitamin to:
- Carry messages through the nervous system
- Fight infection
- Help our muscles move
- Regulate cell growth
Lack of vitamin D can happen year-round, not just in winter. Regular sun exposure on bare skin generally gives people all the vitamin they need. But, in the winter months, time spent indoors prevents the vitamin from penetrating the skin.
How a Deficiency Can Impact Seniors
A vitamin D deficiency is common among seniors for several reasons.
As the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition describes, older people are prone to certain risk factors, such as:
- Decreased dietary intake
- Impaired intestinal absorption
- Less exposure to sunlight
- Reduced skin thickness
A six-year study from the Netherlands found that seniors aged 65-88 with a vitamin D deficiency are nearly twice as likely to have a physical limitation compared to seniors with the highest vitamin levels.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, also indicated that 70% of seniors in this age group already have at least one physical limitation and are likely to develop additional physical limitations over time.
5 Reasons Why Seniors Need Vitamin D
According to WebMD, more and more research points to vitamin D as integral in preventing a number of serious health problems.
In fact, seniors who get the recommended amount of the vitamin each day are more likely to:
- Decrease their risks for cardiovascular problems, some cancers and diabetes.
- Lower chances of early nursing home admission.
- Lower risks for bone disorders and osteoporosis.
- Maintain their physical independence and mobility.
- Prevent falls and fractures.
Certain fortified foods, sun exposure and supplements are the main sources of vitamin D. Because of the link between sun exposure and skin cancer, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that adults rely on food and supplements to get the right amount of the vitamin each day.
Adults aged 19-70 should get 600 IU of vitamin D daily. People aged 71 and over should get 800 IU. A blood test can tell whether you are getting the right amount of the vitamin. Bear in mind that too much of the vitamin can have serious health effects.
Seniors should talk to their doctor before taking supplements to determine if they are necessary and to rule out any potential interactions with prescription medications.
Do you know any seniors who have suffered a vitamin D deficiency? What were the outcomes? We’d like to hear your stories in the comments below.
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