Why is Vitamin D Essential for Seniors?
Maintaining adequate levels of Vitamin D is essential as we age. The recommended dose increases as we advance in age, and the benefits become invaluable.
It is essential to understand the benefits of Vitamin D and what the signs are of a deficiency in a senior loved one. Taking preventative action or treating a deficiency earlier can significantly impact a senior's health and quality of life.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D isn't really a vitamin but is considered a prohormone. When ingested, your liver and kidneys turn it into a hormone called calcitriol. Aside from helping your body to absorb calcium and phosphorus, Vitamin D has many roles in the body and is essential to overall wellbeing and good health.
Benefits of Vitamin D
There are numerous benefits of Vitamin D for seniors. Here are six impressive benefits of getting in a daily dose of the sunshine vitamin.
Promotes bone health. Vitamin D is excellent for strong bones and muscles and can help make calcium more easily absorbed by the body. Osteoporosis is a common ailment among seniors; it can cause bones to become weak and brittle. This condition makes falling more dangerous than it already is and could leave someone who is elderly with a severe fracture.
Prevents infections and cancer. Taking the correct dose of Vitamin D daily is a great preventative measure for fighting off cancers and infections. This powerful vitamin can help ward off colds and cases of flu by boosting the immune system. Vitamin D has also been studied for its benefits in reducing the risk of certain cancers, like colon cancer.
Improves mental health. Adequate levels of Vitamin D have been proven to positively impact the mental health of the elderly. It can help decrease depression symptoms like restless sleep, and loneliness.
Protects oral health. Adequate levels of Vitamin D for seniors can help stop and prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Vitamin D is crucial for the body to absorb calcium. Having a deficiency in calcium is a sign of a vitamin D deficiency and may lead to gum disease.
Cardiovascular health. Not getting enough Vitamin D daily can increase your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and inflammation in the body. All of those things can put you at risk for cardiovascular issues, including heart disease and heart attack.
Helps to prevent cognitive decline. Low levels of Vitamin D have been studied in regard to cognitive decline and dementia in seniors.
How to get more Vitamin D?
After the age of 71, seniors need to increase their daily intake of Vitamin D from 15 micrograms to 20, or 800 IU.
A few ways to get in Vitamin D regularly are:
Sunshine. One of the best and most efficient ways to get your daily dose of Vitamin D. Head out for a 10-minute walk on a sunny afternoon and soak up the sunshine.
Diet. There are not a lot of foods that have Vitamin D in them, but a few are:
Fortified cereals and beverages
Cod liver oil. While not the tastiest option, a tablespoon of cod liver oil packs a whooping 170% daily dose of Vitamin D.
UV lamp. These lamps mimic the sun. If you or your loved one is not able to get outside in the sunshine. Whether its due to mobility issues or it being a cloudy day, a UV lamp can help your body produce enough Vitamin D, as well as ward off seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Supplements. The body quickly absorbs many Vitamin D supplements. Talk to your doctor to find the right one and the correct dose for you or your loved one.
Signs of a Vitamin D deficiency
Signs and symptoms of low Vitamin D may go unnoticed for years, or you may be diagnosed with something else altogether, but having blood work done will give a clear picture of your Vitamin D levels.
A few signs that may indicate a Vitamin D deficiency in the sunshine vitamin are:
Frequent colds or infections
Constantly feeling fatigued
Back, muscle, and bone pain
Slow wound healing
Depression and anxiety
Hair and bone loss
How can an in-home care agency help?
Using an in-home care agency has so many benefits for an aging loved one.
The caregivers can help their seniors with their Vitamin D intake by buying food that will contribute to an overall healthy diet, including Vitamin D-rich food. They can also prepare healthy meals to maintain a balance of essential vitamins and minerals.
Seniors can enjoy going for walks with their caregivers to get some fresh air and sunshine, no matter their mobility. A caregiver can walk beside them or push their wheelchair.
If taking a Vitamin D supplement, cod liver oil, or using a UV lamp, a caregiver will ensure the correct dosage is used, and they purchase the appropriate lamp for optimal results.
The benefits of in-home caregivers are vast and don't stop at maintaining an adequate Vitamin D level. If you are in need of home care, don't be shy to reach out to Comfort Keepers and set up a care consultation.