Ever since you were little, you’ve been told to take your vitamins. As you age, however, some vitamins are more important than others. Vitamin D, for instance, is highly recommended for the elderly, but have you ever wondered why?
Whether you’re a senior yourself or providing senior care for a loved one, here are some important facts you should know about vitamin D.
How Vitamin D Deficiency Puts Seniors at Risk
Vitamin D is essential for promoting the absorption of calcium in the body, promoting bone growth, healthy teeth, strong muscles, and an effective immune system. Because seniors often don’t spend as much time in the sun as they used to, they can become vitamin D deficient, placing them at risk for several different health conditions:
- Fragile bones and weak muscles — A lack of vitamin D is a leading cause of osteoporosis, leading to weak and fragile bones and muscles. Falling with this condition can lead to broken bones and other severe health problems.
- A weak immune system — Without vitamin D to bolster the immune system, a senior is more likely to suffer from common infections such as urinary tract infections, and potentially deadly diseases like the flu and even COVID-19.
- Depression and cognitive impairment — Studies have shown that a vital D plays a vital part in helping seniors manage their emotions and think clearly. Without the necessary vitamin D levels, a senior is more likely to have an impaired ability to reason, often leading to depression.
- A greater risk of non-infectious diseases — There are several non-infectious diseases that can be more common in people with vitamin D deficiency. These include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some types of cancer.
How to Increase Vitamin D Levels
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to increase exposure to vitamin D for you or your senior care patient:
- Spend Time in the Sun — A short 15 to 20-minute walk on a sunny day can provide valuable vitamin D. Be sure to carefully monitor the time spent, however, as excessive exposure to the Sun can be dangerous.
- Sun Lamps — Burlington can be pretty dark during the winter months, so sun lamps can be an excellent substitute for sunlight on a cloudy day. As with natural sunlight, sun lamps have their risks, so talk to your loved one’s doctor about the risks and benefits of these devices before proceeding.
- Diet — Vitamin D isn’t found in many foods, so you should try to incorporate it whenever you can. Some vitamin D-rich foods include salmon, tuna, cheese, milk, egg yolks, and even some fortified fruit juices and cereals.
- Supplements — Dietary supplements can be extremely valuable in helping seniors combat vitamin D deficiency. Talk to your loved one’s doctor for advice on the most effective supplements.
- Professional Caregivers — An expert in senior care can play an invaluable role in ensuring that your loved one has the vitamin D they need for healthy bones and muscles.
To help your family with its senior care needs — or if you have any questions or advice — don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Home Care Assistance of Greater Burlington, VT.