The “Sunshine Vitamin” is an extremely important nutrient that the body needs to function properly.
Insufficiencies may trigger severe health problems such as cognitive decline, depression, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Unfortunately, older adults are at risk for lower levels of vitamin D for several reasons.
When you grow older your skin gets thinner, which makes it harder for your skin to make vitamin D3 when it is exposed to sunlight. Besides, older adults usually spend less time outside, meaning they get less exposure to sunlight, which is the best way to naturally boost vitamin D levels.
Also, as people age, bones become more fragile. That’s why maintaining adequate blood levels of vitamin D can help preserve bone mass with age and may protect against fractures.
And what’s even more concerning, the symptoms caused by low vitamin D, such as fatigue, pain, and depression can easily be misdiagnosed or written off as inevitable side effects of aging.
Therefore, make sure to speak to a doctor if your elderly loved one is having these symptoms. A vitamin D supplement or a lifestyle change will likely make it feel better.
Some of the major vitamin D benefits for seniors are:
Stronger Bones. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become brittle and weak affects 16% of all seniors.
Bone loss from osteoporosis is a major health concern, as it can leave seniors vulnerable to falls, and fractures.
Vitamin D plays a significant role in the regulation of calcium and maintenance of phosphorus levels in the blood. These factors are essential for maintaining healthy bones.
Studies show that vitamin D may lower the risk of osteoporosis, falls, and fractures.
Improved Mood. Social isolation, coping with a chronic illness, or transitioning from work to retirement can all lead to depression in older adults. One promising study suggests that vitamin D may help manage the symptoms associated with depression, especially seasonal affective disorder.
Vitamin D improves senior mental health, combating prevalent issues like elderly depression. A 2017 study of more than 5,600 older adults found a link between lower levels of vitamin D and depressive symptoms, such as loneliness, lack of enjoyment, and restless sleep.
Study participants with the least amount of vitamin D reported more pronounced mental health concerns. As a result of this emerging science, researchers continue to investigate a potential vitamin D antidepressant.
Prevents Cancer and other illnesses. When combined with calcium, vitamin D may lower the risk of developing certain types of cancer, including breast and colon cancers.
Research from the University of Eastern Finland also suggests reduced mortality among some cancer patients treated with vitamin D.
Vitamin D can help boost seniors’ immune systems to defeat other illnesses, like colds, and the flu, and appears to offer some protection against respiratory infections.
Better Oral Health. Vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium, which plays a crucial role in supporting oral health.
In a study of 67 dental patients, those with higher vitamin D levels exhibited a lower likelihood of contracting oral health diseases, the most prominent cause of senior tooth decay and loss.
If you want to help your senior loved one to increase its level of vitamin D, remember that while spending time in the sun is the best way to produce vitamin D, seniors may receive vitamin D through supplements, and foods containing Vitamin D such as salmon, sardines, fortified cereals, soy milk, and eggs.