Although vitamin D is often associated with bone health, it also plays a vital role in many aspects of health. In particular, emerging research suggests that a deficiency of this crucial vitamin has wide-ranging effects on the brain and body. Here’s why it’s so essential to consume vitamin D for seniors.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus. It’s also known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it can be produced in the skin when exposed to UVB radiation from sunlight. It is essential for you or your loved one’s general health and wellness.
Sources of Vitamin D
Sunlight is the most abundant source of vitamin D. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun are needed to trigger your body’s natural production of this nutrient, which is why exposure to sunlight has been shown to help prevent many health issues associated with aging.
Sun exposure isn’t always an option if you live in a colder climate or if you’re concerned about getting too much sun, however. Hence, older adults must ensure they include other sources of this essential vitamin in their daily diet. Foods rich in vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish like salmon and tuna;
- Fortified milk products such as yogurt and cheese; and
- Mushrooms are grown outdoors or exposed to UV light
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 600 IU. However, if you are over 70 years old or live in northern latitudes where it’s dark most of the year, your body may be unable to make enough vitamin D on its own. You may also need more if you have dark skin and don’t spend much time in the sun.
How Does the Aging Body Handle Vitamin D?
As we age, our bodies can absorb less vitamin D from food. This is because the body’s ability to produce it naturally decreases, and fat storage increases as we age. The problem is compounded by the fact that older people tend not to eat enough vitamin D-rich foods like fish and eggs.
Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency
- Muscle weakness
- Rickets in children
In adults, vitamin D deficiency may lead to osteomalacia. This condition is characterized by bone pain, muscle weakness, and fatigue.
Foods That Contain Vitamin D
You can take a supplement to get the recommended amount of vitamin D. The following foods also contain vitamin D:
- Fatty fish—2-3 ounces has about 200 IU
- Eggs—1 egg has about 37 IU
- Fortified milk, yogurt, and orange juice—1 cup of these products provides at least 100 IU
Vitamin D is Essential for Cognitive and Physical Health
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in several aspects of health. It’s essential for bone and muscle strength and the health of your immune, nervous, and cardiovascular systems. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to various health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. This article highlights some of the top benefits of vitamin D for older adults and how your body absorbs it. There are many different sources of this nutrient, so it should be easy to include in your diet.