How to Combat Vitamin D Deficiency This Winter

  • March 6, 2019
How to Combat Vitamin D Deficiency This Winter

Vitamin D deficiency is an incredibly common problem for most Americans, especially seniors. Many members of the Greatest Generation felt the effects of Vitamin D deficiency, which has been linked to childhood wellness issues like rickets, a debilitating bone disease. In the 1930s, the government began fortifying foods—mostly dairy products—with calcium and Vitamin D, dropping the bone deformity rate, which had been hovering around 80 to 90 percent, to nearly nothing.

Although rickets is no longer a major concern for children in most developed countries, Vitamin D deficiency can still have a negative impact on your health, especially as you age. Muscle loss and decreased bone density are a natural part of the aging process, however, with a proper intake of Vitamin D, you can slow this deterioration and increase your overall health. A healthy diet, daily activity, and proper supplementation is the key to keeping your body healthy and strong.

What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency?

There are a variety of factors that contribute to Vitamin D deficiency in the elderly, including:

  • Spending less time outdoors and getting less exposure to sunlight

  • A thinning of the skin, which prevents the absorption of sunlight that the body would normally convert to Vitamin D

  • A lower intake of Vitamin D rich foods

  • A decrease in intestinal absorption of Vitamin D

  • Inefficient Vitamin D conversion in the liver and kidneys

In general, 30 minutes of exposure to sunlight, twice a week, is enough to produce the appropriate amount of Vitamin D that your body needs. However, in order for your body to properly absorb Vitamin D from the sun, you cannot wear sunscreen, and sitting inside and getting light through a glass window is not sufficient. Many seniors have difficulty getting the Vitamin D they need through this method.

Since it’s easy to get mixed messages about the sun—you want to avoid it to prevent melanoma, but you need it in order to produce Vitamin D—you simply have to use your best judgment and practice sun safety when you spend time outside. If sun exposure is not an option for you, there are nutritional changes you can implement in order to avoid a Vitamin D deficiency.

The Negative Effects of A Vitamin D Deficiency

Whether due to malnutrition or to decreased sun exposure, Vitamin D can wreak havoc on your health. Since a lack of Vitamin D has been linked to decreased muscle mass, it can lead to an increased risk of accidents and falls. And because it also leads to the decreased absorption of calcium, leading to weakened bones and osteoporosis, those accidents and falls put you at greater risk of fractures and breaks.

In addition, a Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to:

  • An inability to fight off a variety of diseases

  • Nerve function impairment

  • Increased risk of heart disease and cancer

  • Causes general poor health, fatigue, muscle/joint pain, high blood pressure, and chronic pain.

A Vitamin D deficiency can be hard to diagnose at first since it might appear in different ways. It’s important to be honest with your physician about your eating habits and your exposure to the sun at your annual physical. Be proactive by having your doctor run blood work each year, which can test for a Vitamin D deficiency. If something is off, you will be able to come up with a plan to correct it before the symptoms get worse.

Nutrition For Elderly Bones

In addition to taking a Vitamin D supplement every day, there are nutritional changes that can be made in order to help your body find a healthy way to get your daily-required dose of Vitamin D.

Because very few foods naturally contain Vitamin D, it is important to carefully monitor your Vitamin D intake and discover reliable sources for this powerful vitamin.

Nutrition for elderly health and bones includes the following Vitamin-D fortified foods:

  • Breakfast Cereal

  • Soy Products

  • Some juices

  • Dairy products – especially milk, but also cheese, yogurt, and butter

You should also eat foods that are naturally rich in Vitamin D:

  • Cod Liver Oil

  • Fish – like salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna

  • Oysters

  • Caviar

  • Eggs

  • Mushrooms

Eating to support elderly bone health and strength is especially important with age, as it can mean the difference between staying healthy or breaking bones.

Be Proactive About Your Health

It’s very easy to be reactive about your health; you are diagnosed with a problem and you take the right steps to correct it. However, it is more of a challenge to be proactive about your health by planning for things that have not yet happened yet. In addition to changing some of your eating and exercise habits, being proactive about your health can also mean making an investment in a medical alert device.

With Medical Guardian, you can choose from a variety of medical alert device products that fit different budgets and lifestyle needs. The one constant with all of Medical Guardian’s products? Reliable monitoring services that are guaranteed to be there to help you in an emergency.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hilary Young is a health and wellness expert that specializes in both senior life and caregiving. She'd love to hear more about your thoughts on aging, healthy living, and caregiving, and you can find her on Twitter at @hyoungcreative to start the conversation.

KEYWORDS: vitamin d, vitamin d deficiency, nutrition for elderly, vitamin d foods, nutrition for elderly

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