How to Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency in Seniors
During the colder months, all people, particularly seniors are at risk for vitamin D deficiency. During this time of year, in the winter so many people don’t realize how little they get in the sun and low little vitamin D they are getting. Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is a real problem for all people, particularly seniors. While many people don’t automatically think of vitamin D deficiencies as being an issue, they can actually come with a number of side effects. The more you know about vitamin D deficiency and how they may impact your health—the better.
How Does Vitamin D Impact Healthy Aging?
If you are wondering why vitamin D is so important, one of the main reasons is that it plays a role in healthy aging. When the body doesn’t have enough vitamin D, it can be a risk for a number of health issues, including the following:
- Cardiac disease
- Cognitive issues including memory loss and confusion
- Muscle pain and fatigue
- Type 2 diabetes
- Frequent bone fractures
- Multiple sclerosis
- Certain cancers including breast, thyroid and lung cancer
While a vitamin D deficiency isn’t necessarily going to cause these issues, it can increase the risk of seniors developing these conditions.
How Do You Know That Someone Has a Vitamin D Deficiency?
If you are looking after a senior, you should always be on the lookout for some of the signs of a vitamin D deficiency. While the symptoms can be vague, here are some of the signs that someone may be struggling with a lack of vitamin D in their system.
- Fatigue or weakness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sweating from the head, while feeling cold everywhere else
- Signs of depression
- Joint pain or joint stiffness
- Consistent lack of energy that doesn’t change after sleeping
If you are noticing these signs, it may be time to take your loved one to a doctor. Especially during this time of year or when you know your loved one has not been outdoors in a long time.
Treating a Vitamin D Deficiency
Before you can start helping seniors treat their vitamin D deficiency, it is important that they get an accurate diagnosis first. A blood test can indicate if there is a vitamin D deficiency. From there, the doctor may suggest a vitamin D prescription or an over-the-counter supplement.
There are also a few things that seniors can do on their own to help bring more vitamin D into their bodies, including:
- Beef liver
- Salmon, mackerel or other wild-caught fish
- Canned tuna
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Egg yolks
- Almond milk
- Shitake mushrooms
It is important to remember that vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in many foods, but the aforementioned foods are a great start. It is also a great way to prevent vitamin D deficiencies from happening in the first place—especially during this time of year, when seniors aren’t getting enough vitamin D from the sun.
Kimberly Langdon M.D. is a retired, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place for her senior research project and placed in the 98th percentile on the national exam for OB/GYN residents in the U.S..