Sunny Days: The Importance of Vitamin D for Seniors
Did you know that your body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium? Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, therefore vitamin D is essential too, especially for seniors. One of the easiest ways to get this vitamin is from the sun. The body naturally produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. As little as 10 minutes a day a few times per week can make a big difference.
Vitamin D also supports a variety of other functions such as:
- Strengthening the immune system
- Reducing cancer risk
- Boosting mental health and reducing depression
As you age, your body may have a harder time producing and absorbing vitamin D, meaning taking steps to ensure an adequate supply is even more important, whether from the sun or other sources. Vitamin D deficiency can leave you feeling tired, cause muscle or bone pain, and increase risk of bone fractures or tooth decay.
Food Sources of Vitamin D
Although this vitamin only occurs naturally in a limited number of foods, there are other options that are fortified with it, such as milk, orange juice, yogurt, and certain cereals. You can also incorporate some of these foods into your diet:
- White mushrooms
- Canned tuna fish
- Cooked salmon
- Cod liver oil
- Egg yolks
Read the labels carefully to see how much vitamin D you are getting per serving. Adults aged 71 and older should aim for 15 to 20 micrograms or 800 IU per day.
Other Sources of Vitamin D
Nature: As previously noted, exposure to the sun is a great way to stimulate vitamin D production. While sunscreen is important for protecting against skin cancer, it can also interfere with vitamin D. Aim to spend a few minutes outdoors without sunscreen during times when it is not too hot, then apply it before continuing on with your outside activities.
UV Lamp: For days when the weather is not ideal, consider using a UV lamp. This mimics natural sunlight and can not only help with vitamin D production, but also reduce risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Supplement: If you believe you are not getting enough vitamin D each day, talk to your doctor. A simple blood test can show whether you have a deficiency. Your doctor may recommend taking a daily supplement or multivitamin to boost your vitamin D levels. Make sure that they do not interfere with other medications you are currently taking.
Protect Your Health
Partnering with an in-home caregiver can help seniors stay on top of their health. A caregiver can assist with planning and preparing meals and shopping for ingredients to naturally incorporate foods with vitamin D as part of a well-balanced diet. They can also share a meal together to provide companionship and encourage eating.
Caregivers can also be good workout buddies, accompanying seniors on walks or light exercise outside. Having someone to talk to and walk with can help them stay accountable and make sure they are safely getting outdoors. If vitamin D supplements are recommended, an in-home caregiver can offer medication reminders so doses are not missed.
Contact Always Best Care today at (855) 470-2273 to schedule a care consultation and learn more about the benefits of in-home care for seniors who prefer to age in place.