Tips for Helping Seniors Get Vitamin D in the Winter

By February 16, 2016Healthy Aging

Winter has taken hold now. With fewer daylight hours and the cold weather, people are apt to stay indoors for longer periods of time. This means less sunlight hitting the skin, which results in lower levels of Vitamin D. Studies have shown that seniors aged 65 – 88 with Vitamin D deficiencies are twice as likely to have physical limitations, as opposed to those seniors with high Vitamin D levels. However, there is also such a thing as too much Vitamin D. Here is some information to guide intake of this important vitamin.

What is Vitamin D good for? To begin with, it helps the body absorb calcium. It’s critical to maintaining bone strength and bone health. Without Vitamin D, bodies can lose bone tissue which will lead to pain in the bones, weakness in the muscles, and even skeletal deformity. With the appropriate levels of Vitamin D, muscles can move easier and cell growth is regulated, infections can be fought, and the nervous system can more efficiently carry messages throughout the body. Seniors are already prone to such issues as a reduction in skin thickness and less exposure to sunlight, so the intake of Vitamin D supplements is very important.

It’s important to note that a lack of Vitamin D can occur year round. It’s just that during the winter months a Vitamin D deficiency can easily become more pronounced. Many seniors already suffer from physical limitations, and are at risk of developing more over time if they do not have enough Vitamin D. A senior with the recommended amount of Vitamin D each day is much more likely to prevent falls and fractures thanks to bone strength and muscle fluidity. Osteoporosis and similar bone disorders are less of a risk, as are cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and even some cancers. Seniors can even prolong their ability to age in place when they have increased physical mobility and greater independence.

How does a senior make sure they are getting enough Vitamin D? Sunlight isn’t always the answer because it has so many links to skin cancer, especially among older people, so supplements are recommended as are white lights. Adults ages 19 to 70 should be getting 600 IU of Vitamin D daily, while those 71 and older should get 800 IU. How does a senior know if they’re getting enough? A blood test! A doctor’s visit can be beneficial for a variety of reasons, and a Vitamin D check is just one of them. A personal physician can recommend the best Vitamin D supplements that won’t interfere with prescription medications.

Don’t worry about the sun setting earlier and the days being long and cold. Sunlight is obviously not the only way to get Vitamin D, nor is it necessarily the best way for any given senior. Many supplements can be bought over the counter and a quick visit to the doctor can provide all the information needed.

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