Vitamin D is getting a lot of attention in the nutritional and medical fields these days. Vitamin D2 (which comes from plants sources) and Vitamin D3 (which is made by human skin when exposed to sunlight) are important to all humans, and, especially for the elderly. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium to maintain strong bones and muscle strength, which can reduce the risk of falling. Vitamin D may also protect against high blood pressure, cancer, and other diseases. In fact, every organ of the body has receptors for vitamin D.
The elderly are especially prone to vitamin D deficiency due to many factors such as decreased dietary intake, reduced sunlight exposure, thinning of the skin, impaired intestinal absorption, and liver and kidney impairments. Even healthy people over the age of 70, tend to have vitamin D deficiency in the wintertime.
Signs of vitamin D deficiency are:
- Muscle weakness, especially a heavy feeling in the legs
- Difficulty rising from a chair or climbing stairs
- Reduced handgrip strength
Eating vitamin D rich foods, such as fatty fish, and drinking fortified milk, or orange juice, and getting at least 10-15 minutes of mid-day sunlight can be a good way to combat vitamin D deficiency.
For the elderly, however, diet and sunlight may not be enough to sufficiently boost vitamin D levels, since their skin doesn’t make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight as efficiently as when they were young, and their kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form.
Foods rich in Vitamin D: Mushrooms, Peas, Caviar, Milk, Eggs, Parsley, Sardines, Mackerel, Cheese[/caption]
Vitamin D supplements are often necessary to provide sufficient vitamin D for healthy aging. It is important to have a doctor or a nutritionist check for vitamin D levels before taking supplements. Too much vitamin D can be toxic, and vitamin D can interact or interfere with other medications or supplements.
The good news is that restoring vitamin D levels to a healthy range can preserve muscle strength and reduce the risk of falls. It is a good idea to have a conversation about vitamin D with your doctor or nutritionist to explore the best choices for maintaining healthy vitamin D levels. With the health benefits that come from adequate supplies of vitamin D, it is clear, that this vitamin is an essential partner in the process of healthy aging.
Disclaimer: The contents of this post are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this post. The information does not mention brand names, nor does it endorse any particular products.