A few years back, doctors were mostly worried about vitamin D deficiency in kids. Food was boosted with vitamin D in order to put a stop to bone disease also known as rickets.
However, today we know that this disease doesn’t strike children only but seniors too. Meaning, they also lack vitamin D and according to a new study in the magazine Age and Ageing, this causes muscle weakness, cancer, diabetes, hip fractures, and osteoporosis.
It also contributes to heart diseases and poor overall health in the elderly. We assume you wonder why vitamin D is important and how it affects their system. Keep on reading to find out because this article is dedicated to the lack of vitamin D in the elderly.
What is vitamin D and why do people need it?
If you were not familiar with the function of vitamin D, let us tell you that vitamin D is very important because it has a big effect on different systems throughout our body.
Meaning, it operates as a hormone and every single one of the cells in our body owns a receptor for it. Every person gets vitamin D mostly when exposed to sunlight. Meaning, your system produces vitamin D from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to the sun.
You can also find vitamin D in different foods, however, it is hard to get enough of it from food only. We are going to mention some of the foods rich vitamin D at the end.
According to health experts, the suggested daily intake of vitamin D should be between 400 and 800 IU. However, some experts say that you should probably take more of this vitamin if you do not want to experience difficulties later in life.
Vitamin D deficiency is trendy these days. And if you lack it in your system, it is hard to tell. You probably will not notice until you make a blood analysis. Approximately one billion of the world population has vitamin D deficiency. An alarming number, right?
According to a study that took place in 2011 in the USA, even 41.6% of adults in the country have vitamin D deficiency. This number reaches 82.1% in the African-American population and 69.2% in Hispanics. As we mentioned at the start, this vitamin is crucial in muscle and bone health mostly in elderly and children. However, in average adults too.
It helps our body to fight with different infections and maintains the nervous system function steady and stable. However, as we grow old, our ability to synthesize vitamin D from food and the sun decreases. This factor along with going out less than before and not being exposed to sunlight enough results in vitamin D deficiency in elderly. And this can lead to the development of sarcopenia and falls due to decreased body strength. It might also lead to osteoporosis. It is a common bone disease where bones don’t grow no more. Meaning, it leads to bone fractures due to low bone density. However, if seniors have enough vitamin D, it will boost the development and maintenance of their bones.
Why do elderly suffer from vitamin D deficiency?
As we mentioned before, individuals over age 50 suffer from vitamin D deficiency more often than others because the risk of vitamin D deficiency increases with their age.
The older they get, the less we go out (with exceptions). Meaning they are less exposed to the sun and the natural production of the vitamin D in their system is also declined.
Also, it needs to be activated in their kidney before their body can use it. However, unfortunately, this ability also depends on the age and decreases as people get older.
Read more: Ideal Room Temperature For Elderly
Older people don’t spend too much time outside and don’t exercise as they did before due to lack of motivation and tiredness. And it all leads to vitamin D deficiency.
According to health specialists, it is enough to receive at least 30 minutes of sun twice a week to produce the suggested amount of vitamin D from the sunlight in your system.
When seniors suffer from vitamin D deficiency, they notice muscle weakening. They are tired and fatigued all the time. They might mistake it for the aging symptom. However, it is not. It might be vitamin D deficiency. And instead of ignoring this, they should do a blood test and check their overall health more often. Other common symptoms of this may include bone pain and getting sick more often due to their declined immune system.
What are the common risks of vitamin D deficiency?
Children and elderly are not the only two group of people prone to vitamin D deficiency. Everyone who is exposed to the next common risks might have to vitamin D deficiency.
- Having a dark skin
- Living in a place without many sunny days
- Being obese or overweight
- Using sunscreen all the time
- Not consuming dairy products or fish
- Not moving much/staying indoors
As you can notice, people with dark skin might suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Also, if you stay indoors and don’t move much, you might also lack vitamin D in your system.
People who use sunscreen every time they go out or don’t consume fish and dairy, or other products that represent a substitute for fish and dairy, might lack vitamin D.
You may not suspect you suffer from vitamin D deficiency because symptoms are hard to recognize, however, it may have a negative impact on your quality of life, in general.
If you want to learn more about the risks of vitamin D deficiency, check out this video.
What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?
We have already mentioned bone pain, fatigue, and tiredness as some of the common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. However, there are a few others you need to pay attention to, especially if you are an older person and you suspect you lack vitamin D.
- Getting sick very often
If you are getting infected or sick often than before, you might suffer from vitamin D deficiency. This vitamin plays an important role in maintaining your immune system and keeping it strong. Meaning, it interacts with the cells responsible for dealing with the infection. If you are sick or infected often, it is not a bad thing to make a blood test.
- Anxiety and depression
If you are feeling anxious or depressed more than you usually do, it might be a signal that you lack vitamin D in your system.
According to recent studies, experts believe that vitamin D deficiency leads to depression, especially in elderly.
Even 65% of the studied subjects had a low level of vitamin D and depression. Other studies have shown the opposite result and no connection between the two conditions.
You might experience depression during winter, known as seasonal depression caused by vitamin D deficiency.
- Weakened wound healing
If your wounds heal slower than before, you might lack vitamin D in your system. It is proven that vitamin D helps in healing wounds faster. Meaning, if your levels of vitamin D are low, you might experience slower surgery wound or injury healing in the future.
- Hair and bone loss
Vitamin D plays an important role in bone metabolism and calcium absorption. Meaning, if you lack it in your system, you might experience bone and hair loss. Many seniors are diagnosed with bone loss thinking they lack calcium, when in fact, they lack vitamin D in their system. As for hair loss, is often associated with stress. However, it might also occur due to a nutrient deficiency or some disease. In women, hair loss is connected to low vitamin D levels. It may also lead to alopecia areata and help it develop this disease.
- Muscle pain
If you experience back pain or muscle pain, it might point out that you lack vitamin D in your system. According to a study, 71% of individuals experiencing chronic pain also had low levels of vitamin D. Meaning, vitamin D deficiency may lead to muscle and back pain.
To learn more about the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, watch this educative video.
How can elderly optimize vitamin D levels?
If you check your overall health and you’re diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency, you can optimize vitamin D levels by following the next steps and applying our simple tips below.
- Eat food rich in vitamin D such as cheese, beef liver, salmon, cod liver oil and egg yolks. You can also consume foods fortified with vitamin D such as cereals and juice drinks. This is one of the natural ways to boost the levels of vitamin D.
- Go out more and enjoy the sun. This is the second natural way to increase the levels of vitamin D. The sunlight turns cholesterol to vitamin D in your system.
- Vitamin D supplement. Take it every day to reduce the risk of bone fractures.
- Don’t use sunscreen when exposed to the sun if you lack vitamin D in the body.
What healthy food is rich in vitamin D?
If you wonder which food to consume when you lack vitamin D in your system, we have prepared a list with food rich in vitamin D. Feel free to consume whatever you like best.
- Herring and sardines
- Cod Liver Oil
- Canned tuna
- Egg yolks
- Soy milk
- Orange juice
- Cereal and oatmeal
To learn more about the foods rich in vitamin D, check out this educational video.
Final thoughts on vitamin D deficiency
As we have noticed by our research on this topic, vitamin D plays an important part in our system and functioning. To speak honestly, we did not know it is that important until we noticed that the number of individuals who lack vitamin D their system is constantly increasing. As mentioned before, vitamin D maintains our immune system.
Meaning, if you feel tired, depressed or notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is not a bad idea to make a blood test. We honestly hope you find this article helpful, especially if you are an older person who is suspecting you lack vitamin D in your system.
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