Mar 11

IS VITAMIN D ESSENTIAL FOR OLDER ADULTS?

Vitamin D deficiency is a major public health problem, particularly among elderly people and is associated with several geriatric syndromes. It is important for our bones, blood cells, and immune system.

In adults Vitamin D deficiency leads to a mineralization defect in the skeleton, causing osteomalacia, and induces secondary hyperparathyroidism with consequent bone loss and osteoporosis.

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency

Lack of vitamin D is not often obvious in adults. Some of the signs and symptoms might include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Bone pain.
  • Muscle weakness, muscle aches, or muscle cramps.
  • Mood changes, like depression.
  • Cognitive impairment in older adults.
Risk factors 

According to WebMD, there are several things that can raise your chances of having low levels of vitamin D:

  • Age: Your skin and kidneys don’t make it as easily in your older years.
  • Darker skin: It doesn’t convert sunlight as well.
  • Digestive problems: Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and problems with fat digestion can limit your levels.
  • Obesity: Fat traps some vitamin D and stops it from getting into your blood.
How can you prevent vitamin D deficiency?
  • Eat more foods that contain vitamin D.
  • Get some exposure to sunshine.
  • Take supplements.

It’s important not to take too much vitamin D. Vitamin D toxicity is rare but can be serious. If you are sick, homebound, 50+ or older, spend most of your time indoors, you might not get enough vitamin D. Talk to your doctor if you think your levels are low.

For information on Vitamin D and COVID-19, see the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines on Vitamin D

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