VITAMIN D & SENIORS


Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, can be produced in the body with mild sun exposure or consumed in food or supplements. It’s important because it helps your body absorb calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. It can also aid in healthy bone growth, healthy teeth, and help muscles move and nerves carry messages from the brain throughout your body. When your body is lacking in Vitamin D, it can develop diseases which can cause brittle and thin bones.

Vitamin D has many roles including:

  • Maintaining the health of bones and teeth

  • Regulating insulin levels and diabetes management

  • Supporting the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system

  • Supporting lung function and cardiovascular health

  • Influencing the expression of genes involved in cancer development

Vitamin D deficiency is common, especially in the elderly, infants, people with dark skin, and people living in higher latitudes or who get little sun exposure. In adults, Vitamin D deficiency can manifest as osteoporosis which results in poor bone density, muscular weakness, and often causes small fractures of the spine, femur, and humerus. Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease among post-menopausal women and older men. Vitamin D deficiency is common among seniors because older people are prone to certain risk factors, such as:

  • Decreased dietary intake of vitamin D

  • Less exposure to sunlight

  • Reduced skin thickness

  • Impaired intestinal absorption

Seniors who get the recommended amount of Vitamin D each day are more likely to:

  • Prevent falls and fractures

  • Lower risks for osteoporosis and other bone disorders

  • Maintain their physical mobility and independence

  • Decrease risks for cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and some cancers

What are good sources of Vitamin D?

  • Fortified beverages – milk, cheese, orange juice and some fortified soy and rice milk

  • Fatty fish – salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel and eel

  • Egg yolks and beef liver

  • Dietary supplements and fortified foods – yogurt, breakfast cereals and certain kinds of mushrooms

  • Moderate sun exposure of 20-25 minutes of direct sunlight three times a week

  • (But don’t forget to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing)

Seniors and all adults should talk with their physician before taking supplements to determine if they are necessary. This is important to understand proper dosage and potential interactions with prescription medications.

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/161618.php

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