Why Seniors Are at an Increased Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency during Winter
Our body relies on vitamins and minerals to keep our health at optimal levels. This is true, regardless of our age but when we get older, our risk for deficiencies increases for a number of reasons. Perhaps the primary reason is an inability of the body to absorb the nutrients from the food we eat. Seniors may be at risk for illnesses, including heart disease, multiple sclerosis, asthma and osteoporosis. They may even be at a greater risk for some types of cancer.
Although seniors may see deficiencies in many types of vitamins and minerals, vitamin D often comes up on the radar. When seniors live in colder climates, they tend to spend more time indoors during the colder months of the year. It reduces their exposure to direct sunlight significantly.
The body uses sunlight to produce vitamin D. It is not a vitamin that naturally occurs in many foods, making the problem even worse.
How Much Vitamin D Is Necessary on a Daily Basis?
Even though some don't agree on the amount of vitamin D necessary every day, The Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health1 and the Institute of Medicine2 are in agreement.
The vitamin D guidelines by those two organizations suggest the following:
600 international units (IU) per day for children and adults up to the age of 70
800 international units per day for adults over the age of 70
Other organizations tend to suggest a much higher limit for the daily vitamin D dosage. According to some physicians, 1000 IUs daily should be the target to provide optimum bone health in an older adult.
What Are the Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency may display itself in various symptoms, but being able to recognize the most common symptoms in seniors may help you to keep them safe. Just be aware that the symptoms are often difficult to pinpoint so they may be overlooked or misdiagnosed.
Some of the vitamin D deficiency symptoms can include3:
- Fatigue and overall weakness
- Muscle pain and muscle fatigue
- Swelling and pain in bones and joints
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sweating despite not feeling hot
If an older loved one tends to stay indoors, you may want to discuss the possibility of a vitamin deficiency with their physician. The doctor can easily check for such a deficiency with a simple blood test.
If the deficiency is recognized, it is likely that an over-the-counter supplement or a prescription dosage of vitamin D may be recommended. If a higher deficiency is seen in an older adult, a few months of a prescription dose may be considered.
To make sure you are getting enough vitamin D this winter, we recommend you take NATURELO Plant-Based Vitamin D supplement made from wild harvested lichen.
2. The 2011 report on dietary reference intakes for calcium and vitamin D from the Institute of Medicine: what clinicians need to know., 2011 Jan;96(1):53-8. doi: 10.1210/jc.2010-2704. Epub 2010 Nov 29
3. Vitamin D Deficiency in Adults: When to Test and How to Treat, 2010 Aug; 85(8): 752–758