Is your Senior Getting Enough Vitamin D?
December 29, 2020
Everyone needs Vitamin D, but for people over 65, the need to ensure Vitamin D absorption becomes more critical. Vitamin D deficiencies in the elderly cause bone problems like osteoporosis. Recent studies also show that Vitamin D may be instrumental in fighting dementia, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Furthermore, as we age, it can become more difficult to access the Vitamin D we do take in. And obesity, to which many older adults are prone, can complicate the absorption of D further.
What causes Vitamin D deficiency?
Unless your senior is going outside for a few minutes every day, with at least some skin exposure, she is at risk for a deficiency. Either arms or legs must be directly exposed to the sun to fully capture the right amount of the mineral.
People cannot absorb Vitamin D through glass, so sitting in the sun room won’t help. Sunscreen is, of course, recommended for everyone. And it can reduce the amount of Vitamin D absorbed, but not substantially, scientists think.
The further one lives from the equator, the harder it is to get enough D. People who live in Portland, Maine or Portland, Oregon, for instance, will get less Vitamin D from sunlight than people who live in Florida or southern California.
According to Harvard Health, African Americans may need more Vitamin D than Caucasians because of differing levels of melanin. And, if your senior lives under a hole in the ozone, she will get more Vitamin D in her daily walk than someone who does not.
How to supplement Vitamin D
The most obvious way to correct a Vitamin D deficiency is to get out into the sunlight for a few more minutes every day. But for seniors with disabilities, that may not be viable.
Few foods naturally contain enough Vitamin D to compensate for loss of sun. Salmon, trout, sturgeon, and the infamous cod liver oil all contain some D, but most people with a deficiency will need to take a supplement.
Many multivitamins contain a quantum of Vitamin D. Some seniors will need higher doses, however. Inactive Vitamin D is sold over the counter. For many seniors, an over-the-counter supplement will suffice. However, if your senior has kidney disease and/or is on dialysis, she may need the active form of Vitamin D, sometimes called calcitriol. For that, she will need a prescription.
When it comes to taking vitamins, seniors sometimes need reminding and encouragement. Elder care professionals can help by putting vitamins in pill boxes and checking to make sure they have been taken. Elder care workers, who come to your home for a few hours a week or on a live-in basis, can also make taking a short walk safer for your mother or father.
In conclusion, healthy, happy seniors need to ensure they are getting enough Vitamin D. Because of illness or immobility, they are at higher risk of not getting enough. And they may also have difficulty processing what Vitamin D they are getting. Fortunately for most people, over-the-counter Vitamin D supplements will make up the deficiency.
If you or your loved one is looking for Elder Care in Redwood City, CA, please call Familiar Surroundings Home Care.
Santa Clara County: (408) 979-9990
San Mateo County: (650) 353-9777
Santa Cruz County: (831) 480-3990