Seniors and Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency has been called the “ignored epidemic.” Some studies have even suggested that it’s a global problem.

When your body isn’t producing enough vitamin D or when you aren’t consuming enough of it through food sources, you are at a higher risk of deficiency. This can put you at risk for several symptoms and serious long-term health complications.

Let’s explore vitamin D deficiency symptoms to watch out for, common risk factors, and what you can do to prevent it.

 

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms in Seniors

Do you think that you might be lacking in vitamin D?

Read the following statements and respond with “yes” or “no.”

  1. I often feel tired, more so than usual.
  2. My family would say that I’m a picky eater; I usually never eat dairy, fish, eggs, and dark leafy greens.
  3. I get sick more often than my family and friends.
  4. When I get a cut, it takes a long time to heal.
  5. I find myself feeling sad and blue a lot.
  6. There is pain in my muscles and bones, especially my lower back.
  7. I recently visited my doctor and he said that I had lost some of my bone mass.

If you answered yes to most of these statements, then you could be at risk for vitamin D deficiency.

 

Risk Factors of Vitamin D Deficiency

Elderly people are the most at risk as they usually meet more than one of the following risk factors:


Medications: Studies show that certain medications can prevent the proper absorption of vitamin D. Check with your doctor to ensure your prescription medication isn’t interfering with vitamin D absorption.


Being Overweight or Obese: Studies show that vitamin D deficiency is linked with being overweight or obese. Subjects who had the most belly fat also had the lowest levels of vitamin D. 


Picky Diet: If you are very particular about the foods you eat and you’re cutting out fish and dairy, you have a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.


Dark Skin: If you have darker skin, you don’t absorb sunlight as easily for your body to naturally produce vitamin D.


Staying Indoors: If you don’t go outside much, you aren’t getting enough sunshine to promote vitamin D production.


Location: If you live in a state that doesn’t get much sunlight, you’re at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.


How to Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency

Here are some simple lifestyle changes you can make to help you avoid vitamin D deficiency:


Eat Vitamin D-Focused Foods: Create a healthy meal plan that incorporates more vitamin D into your diet. Some of the foods that naturally contain high levels of vitamin D include whole eggs, milk, and salmon.


Supplement with Vitamin D: While your focus should be on whole foods, a vitamin D supplement can be a tremendous help, especially in the wintertime when you’re less likely to get as much vitamin D-producing sunshine. If you’re under 70 years of age, the recommended dosage is 15 mcg. If you’re older than 70, take 20 mcg per day.


Get Outside: Your body naturally produces vitamin D from sunshine so take this as a chance to get up and outside! Studies suggest that around 15 minutes of sun exposure per day – exposing 40% of the body – is enough time to produce more vitamin D. You can use sunscreen but make it something light such as 15 SPF (sun protection factor).


Vitamin D Deficiency: Get Ahead of It

If you believe that you are vitamin D deficient, you can begin making simple lifestyle changes with the options above. With that said, we strongly advise you to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss these suggestions and seek further options.


References

  1. Naeem Z. Vitamin d deficiency- an ignored epidemic. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2010;4(1):V–VI.
  1. Kweder H, Eidi H. Vitamin D deficiency in elderly: Risk factors and drugs impact on vitamin D status. Avicenna J Med. 2018;8(4):139–146. doi:10.4103/ajm.AJM_20_18.
  1. Pereira-Santos M, Costa PR, Assis AM, Santos CA, Santos DB. Obesity and vitamin D deficiency: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2015 Apr;16(4):341-9. doi: 10.1111/obr.12239. Epub 2015 Feb 17.
  1. Boucher BJ. The problems of vitamin d insufficiency in older people. Aging Dis. 2012;3(4):313–329.

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