As we age, vitamin deficiencies become more of a problem, due to medication side effects, disease and improper diet. One of the most important vitamins that we need, vitamin D, is especially lacking in many senior’s diets.
What are the results of vitamin D deficiency?
- Muscle weakness and lack of strength which can make it difficult for seniors to climb stairs, walk and use their hands properly.
- Lack of coordination, often leading to falls.
- Weak bones which break easily, since vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium.
- At one time and still in some areas, occasionally, rickets, a lack of minerals in the bones which causes skeletal deformities.
- Increase in cardiovascular disease.
- Cognitive impairment especially in seniors.
It isn’t difficult to increase the amount of vitamin D in your body. You can start by spending more time in the sun each day, preferably in early morning or late afternoon. This can be difficult for those who live in a northern climate and older adults with dark skin who have a hard time getting the required amount of vitamin D from sunlight as it will not absorb well.
A vegetarian diet can also leave you short of your required vitamins. As you age, your kidneys have to work harder to convert vitamin D to its active form, which is how it improves your health. Some diseases such as cystic fibrosis, celiac disease and Crohn’s disease affect your intestine’s ability to absorb vitamin D. If you are obese, this will also keep the vitamin from circulating in your blood stream due to increased fat cells.
How much Vitamin D is enough?
The recommended amount of vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) for those ages 1-70, and 800 IU for adults older than age 70 for optimal bone health. The safe upper limit is 4,000 IU. Doctors may prescribe more than 4,000 IU to correct a vitamin D deficiency. Besides taking vitamin D supplements to ensure you have enough, the following foods have lots, so always add them to your meals as part of a healthy diet:
- Egg yolks
- Beef liver
- Fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel
- Foods fortified with vitamin D such as milk, cereal and orange juice
- Cod liver oil
Remember, since vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, it can be stored in your body. So get going on making sure you have enough Vitamin D today.
This article is intended for information purposes only. For more details talk to your health practitioner about your Vitamin D needs.