Why Vitamin D is Important for Seniors
Since it’s summer and the sun is shining, there’s no better time to talk about the health benefits of vitamin D! The “sunshine vitamin” is particularly beneficial for seniors, and has been shown to enhance bone health, oral health and even mental health. In this article, our assisted living team in Sussex County, New Jersey, will go over Vitamin D benefits in depth, and teach you how to spot a Vitamin D deficiency in your senior loved one.
Reasons why seniors need Vitamin D
#1 – Helps boost bone health
Vitamin D helps to prevent and manage osteoporosis, a health condition that makes bones brittle and weak. This is especially relevant to seniors, as falls can cause serious damage and require intensive hospitalization.
A study in 2019 by the American Medical Association found that seniors who had sufficient Vitamin D and calcium in their diet reduced their risk of hip fractures alone by 16%. To achieve the best results, all adults over 60 should combine the recommended dose of 1000 IU per day with 1,200 mg of calcium.
#2 – Helps prevent infection and cancers
Vitamin D is a great nutrient for disease prevention, helping to reduce risks for everything from cancers to the flu. That’s because it works to strengthen the immune system, helping to fight against everyday diseases, as well as targeting specific health conditions like colon cancer. In fact, a global study from 25 different clinical trials showed natural, antibiotic-like responses in the body being promoted by Vitamin D intake!
#3 – Great for oral health
Dental care can be a challenge for seniors, but getting the right amount of Vitamin D each day can help make this a little easier. Vitamin D helps prevent gum disease and tooth decay, and lowers your risk of oral health diseases. That’s because it works to help your body absorb calcium, the critical building block for strong, healthy, decay-resistant teeth.
#4 – Enhances your mental wellbeing
In countries with little sunlight for months on end, Vitamin D is prescribed to help lift your mood and prevent SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. For seniors, Vitamin D is especially effective for combatting depression and depressive symptoms, improving mental health, sleep quality, and overall happiness.
Signs of a Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiencies are quite common in older adults. Especially if they have a small appetite or spend little time outside. Common signs for this deficiency include:
- Muscle weakness and bone breaks/frailty.
- Changes in mood and cognitive function, as well as depressive symptoms.
- Weight gain, as lower amounts of Vitamin D can cause poor regulation of appetite and body weight.
- Fatigue and pain in the shoulders, pelvis, lower back and ribcage.
- Digestive issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
How seniors can get enough Vitamin D
Ideally, adults should get around 1000 IU per day, and the earlier this begins, the better. You can make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D by:
- Taking supplements – Preferably a high-quality Vitamin D supplement that contains calcium.
- Spending time outdoors – Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, so spending time outside is a great way to get your daily dose. You can gently expose your skin while still protecting it from harmful UV rays. Early morning sunshine is the most gentle on the skin. It’s also good to sit in dappled sunlight, wear a hat and use sunscreen daily.
- Change your diet – There are certain foods that are rich in Vitamin D and can help supplement your intake. Try to include fresh milk, salmon, tuna, mushrooms, egg yolks and cheeses like fontina, muenster and monterey into your diet.
At Bristol Glen, an assisted living community in Sussex County, New Jersey, we offer spacious apartments that incorporate fall prevention measures, and that are just a short walk from beautiful outdoor spaces like our community garden. We also offer full catering, with nutritious meals prepared by our chefs that meet all dietary requirements. With ample opportunities to get outdoors and change your diet at Bristol Glen, there’s no reason why our senior residents can’t get enough Vitamin D!
If you want to find out more about our assisted living community in NJ, you can view our community virtual tours, read about our services and much more on our website at: https://umcommunities.org/bristolglen/