Vitamin D is an important part of nutrition and health for everyone. But seniors often have a difficult time getting adequate amounts of vitamin D because it becomes harder to absorb with age. This post explains what role vitamin D plays in the body, why it is important, and how to increase vitamin D intake.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is most commonly known as the vitamin caused by sunshine because it’s produced in the skin naturally when exposed to direct sunlight. It helps regulate calcium absorption, immune system function, and promotes resistance against certain diseases. Vitamin D helps with bone strength and health which helps to reduce falls and fractures for older adults. Finally, it helps to regulate mood and reduces depression.
Why is Vitamin D Important for Seniors?
Vitamin D is important for seniors because their skin isn’t able to synthesize it as effectively as they get older. In addition, seniors may not spend as much time outdoors, and they may also have osteoporosis. Because seniors cannot absorb vitamin D as efficiently as they age, their skin thins, and the kidneys and digestive system do not work as efficiently as before. Other factors such as diet, climate, gender, and age also determine the amount of vitamin D a person needs as they age.
How to Increase Vitamin D Intake
Certain foods have a lot of vitamin D in them, or they are fortified with it. Common types of food include:
- Scrambled eggs
- Fortified yogurt
- Orange juice
- Fortified cereal
- Fatty fish
Eating these foods is only one way to increase vitamin D intake. Taking a vitamin D supplement is also helpful. Before starting on a supplement, older adults or their caregivers need to make sure that it’s safe to do so. Some medications may interact with supplements.
Getting outside in the sun for a short period of time to do an activity like gardening or walking the dog also helps with vitamin D intake. But it is not usually enough because an hour of direct sunlight exposure each week is necessary to get the appropriate amount of vitamin D.
Vitamin D & COVID-19
Vitamin D has long been known to play a role in support of our respiratory health and immune system. There are a multitude of studies that show a strong association with reduced risks of infections and appropriate levels of Vitamin D. In the past year studies have been underway to understand how Vitamin D may help mitigate the severity of COVID-19.
If you are concerned that your loved one isn’t receiving the nutrition they need to thrive at home in Newport Beach or Orange County, CA, consider hiring a caregiver. The dedicated care team at Optimal Senior Care Solutions is ready to help find a care solution that works for your family. Reach out to us today!