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Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency on Seniors

The sunshine vitamin, also known as vitamin D, is an essential component of overall health. Our bodies use vitamin D to help regulate bone and muscle strength. It also allows us to absorb phosphorus and calcium effectively. Vitamin D deficiency impacts about 35% of adults in the United States and commonly affects people over the age of 65. Here are several ways you can help your senior loved one maintain healthy levels of vitamin D.

How do I know if I have a vitamin D deficiency?

Signs of a vitamin D deficiency can vary and may not be noticeable right away. However, here are symptoms that frequently occur when an individual has low levels of vitamin D:

Tiredness and Fatigue

People with vitamin D deficiencies tend to experience chronic fatigue. If you are getting good amounts of sleep but are still feeling exhausted, it is worth having your vitamin D levels checked.

Frequent Illness

Vitamin D helps strengthen our immune systems. If your body does not have enough of this vitamin, it’s possible that you are more prone to illness and can get sick regularly.

Bone Pain

Our bodies absorb calcium with the assistance of vitamin D. Without this nutrient, your bones can become weaker and even feel painful. Vitamin D also affects the body’s pain signaling pathways which may also contribute to painful or achy bones.

Depression

It’s normal for all of us to feel down every now and again. However, if you are feeling sadder than normal quite frequently, with no known cause, you could have a vitamin D deficiency. This may be because vitamin D affects hormones, such as serotonin, which help to regulate and boost our moods.

Hair Loss

Hair loss is often caused by a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the production of hair follicles. Without sufficient amounts of vitamin D, new hair will not grow as effectively. If you are noticing significant hair loss, you may want a doctor to check your vitamin D levels.

How can I treat a vitamin D deficiency?

Here are a few things you can try to combat a vitamin D deficiency.

Supplements. If you are diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency, your doctor may recommend that you take a vitamin D supplement. This can help restore your vitamin levels to a healthy amount.

Sunshine. Another way to increase your vitamin D is by spending some time outside. Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D and enjoying a small amount of time in the sun each day can provide you with the amount of vitamin D you need. Just be mindful to apply plenty of sunscreen before you venture into nature, drink lots of water, and don’t go outside in extreme heat.

Snacks. It is important to try and incorporate foods that are rich in vitamin D into your diet. Fish is one of the best sources of vitamin D. Try enjoying a power bowl with your favorite veggies, rice and some salmon or canned tuna.

Whole eggs are another excellent source of vitamin D. Try snacking on hard boiled eggs and a slice of ham or whole grain bread.

Many fortified cereals often contain vitamin D, as do oatmeal, cow’s milk, and orange juice. Enjoy a bowl of oatmeal with some blueberries and a glass of orange juice or milk to enrich your vitamin D intake!

Additionally, fortified yogurt and other dairy products are typically rich in vitamin D. Enjoy non-fat vanilla yogurt with granola and some peach slices, for a tasty snack and healthy dose of vitamin D.

It is important for seniors to receive adequate amounts of vitamin D. This can help contribute to overall health and reduce their risk of developing osteoporosis. A vitamin D deficiency can be remedied with supplements, sunshine and diet modifications. If you are concerned about a vitamin D deficiency, be sure to consult your healthcare provider for advice.

At Homewatch CareGivers, we help clients maintain healthy lifestyles. If you or a loved one need assistance with daily walks, meal preparation or other activities that combat vitamin D deficiency, we can help! Call a location near you today to learn more.
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