Vitamin D, healthy living and vitamins and healthy living after 60 are all on the same page.
Vitamin D, Why We Need It.
I recently had a conversation with a very smart woman. She asked, “Dad, have you ever done an article about vitamin D?”
She is truly smart. For nearly 20 years she has been involved in the health of women and infant children. She is licensed in Midwifery and has been engaged in health related services around the world.
I hadn’t written about vitamin D so thought I would take this opportunity to tell you what I have learned.
I went to the website for the National Institute of Health. I read much of what they had to say.
Allow me to point out that a second benefit of the report, beyond the knowledge of vitamin D, is it’s amazing quality to cure insomnia.
What I Learned
Vitamin D is not naturally found in many foods. The need for the fat-soluble vitamin is vital for human health. So how do we get the vitamin we need?
One source of course, is the food where it is found naturally. The list includes several forms of fish.
- cod liver oil
- Orange juice, fortified with vitamin D
- Milk is fortified
- yogurt, fortified
- margarine is fortified
Fortified sources are significant and without the added vitamin, would be of no benefit as it relates to vitamin D.
Both the United States and Canada have required the fortification of milk for nearly eight decades.
Many ready to eat breakfast cereals are heavily fortified with vitamin D.
Other food with natural Vitamin D include:
- Egg yolks
- Cooked beef liver.
Sunlight is an important and natural form of receiving vitamin D. Here, in part, is what the National Institutes of Health reported:
“The factors that affect UV radiation exposure and research to date on the amount of sun exposure needed to maintain adequate vitamin D levels make it difficult to provide general guidelines.
“It has been suggested by some vitamin D researchers, for example, that approximately 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen usually lead to sufficient vitamin D synthesis and that the moderate use of commercial tanning beds that emit 2%–6% UVB radiation is also effective.
“Individuals with limited sun exposure need to include good sources of vitamin D in their diet or take a supplement to achieve recommended levels of intake.”
Groups at Risk of Vitamin D Inadequacy
While many various groups will find additional risks relating to vitamin D. For the purposes of this article we will stay with those most likely to affect seniors.
Nearly half of seniors will be at risk of hip fractures due to insufficiencies of vitamin D. In part, the lack of the vitamin comes from diet. Also is lack of sunshine. Older adults spend more time indoors than younger adults.
The skin of older adults, because of aging, does not absorb Ultraviolet rays as well as it once did. So older adults, even while spending adequate time outdoors do not absorb the needed vitamin D producing UV rays of the sun.
Health issues common in all ages are often more prominent in older people.
The risks of Vitamin D insufficiencies are increased in people with inflammatory bowel disease and other conditions causing fat malabsorption.
As mentioned, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. The absorption of the vitamin is dependent on the systems ability to do just that.
Often, in those with disease or issues related to the gut, the absorption of Vitamin D is limited or totally absent.
The report from the National institutes for health also points out the risks of obese people or those who have had gastric bypass surgery. Those who have had the surgery have limited intestines to allow for adequate absorption of the vitamin.
Those who are obese simply require much higher levels of the vitamin. In both cases, deficiencies are likely.
It is reported that more than 40 million adults in the United States are at risk of developing osteoporosis. It is affecting bone mass with structural deterioration of bone tissue. The result is fragile bones and much higher risks of fractures.
Vitamin D is a part of the calcium equation. Calcium of course is important in bone health.
Insufficiencies of Vitamin D contribute to the problem because low Vitamin D reduces calcium absorption. The one—two punch increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Reports are clouded but the recommendations are strong that supplements of both calcium and vitamin D are a part of older people’s regimen.
Some how the word always becomes a part of the conversation. Especially when we are talking about seniors.
The data is not conclusive, but studies seem to indicate that healthy vitamin D intakes can be a part in reducing risks of colon, prostate and breast cancer.
Vitamin D is necessary, even vital for healthy living. Receiving too little can not be an option.
There is one report related to high doses of vitamin D. In a one year study of some 200 men and women age 70 and older, those receiving extremely high levels, 60,000 IU of Vitamin D per month, suffered a higher fall ratio than those who received the recommended monthly dose of 24,000 IU (international units).
While the study was a small group and only for one year, one take away is certain. The recommended monthly dose poses no increased risk of falling. CBS News reports on the study.
As you approached such studies of healthy living and the role of vitamins, understand that for nearly one hundred years, vitamin D deficiencies have been recognized as a health risk.
What To Take
Healthy living with vitamins, including the all important vitamin D, needs to be part of your health regimen.
Recommendations for seniors support 800 IU per day as a great target. For those who are obese, have limited sun exposure, are in institutions or housebound, have osteoporosis, or have malabsorption. The dose may be as high as 2000 IU per day.
As always, you should consult your doctor to know what is right for you.
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Questions or comments? Let me know in the comments section.