You’ve probably heard that vitamin D is critical to the health and well-being of seniors, but do you know why? Vitamin D deficiency is an increasingly common condition among people of all ages, but older adults are at risk. Without an adequate daily intake, several geriatric syndromes can manifest. Learn about the benefits of vitamin D and its common sources for prevention against these issues.
Benefits of Vitamin D for Older Adults
Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb calcium – downright essential for healthy bone mass and strength. It also plays a vital role in maintaining the health of our immune system, muscles, and teeth. In turn, older individuals who receive the recommended daily dose of this vitamin have a reduced likelihood of bone disorders, osteoporosis, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, and certain cancers.
Produced naturally in the body from direct exposure to sunlight, “sunshine vitamin” is another name for it. Unfortunately, older individuals who are homebound are more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency, as they often don’t spend enough time outdoors under the sun. Since vitamin D receptors are associated with parts of the brain that influence mood, adequate daily intake of it can lead to improved cognition and overall mood.
How Much Vitamin D is Necessary?
As we age, the amount of vitamin D the body needs can change for various reasons. Firstly, an individual’s ability to absorb this vitamin diminishes with age due to thinning skin, a change in diet, having a less functional digestive system and kidneys, and not spending as much time outdoors as they used to. Although most experts recommend around 600 International Units (IU) per day for adults over 50 and 800 IU for those over 70, it’s important to speak with the doctor to determine the ideal dose. Keep in mind that ingesting an excessive dose of vitamin D can lead to serious health consequences.
How Older Adults Can Increase Their Vitamin D Levels
Here are a few ways you can increase the vitamin D levels in the body to stay healthy:
- Eating well – Although it is not found naturally in many foods, you can still ensure the food and beverages your family consumes contain vitamin D by encouraging them to include more salmon, egg yolks, cheese, tuna, mackerel, or supplements in their diet.
- Getting some sunlight – Since being under the sun is the primary way one’s body produces vitamin D, a stroll in your neighborhood park on a sunny morning can provide you with physical and emotional benefits too. Do note that it’s critical not to stay out too long to prevent skin burns.
- Using sun lamps – For those living in colder climates where the sun isn’t as strong, sun lamps are a great alternative to help the body with vitamin D production.
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