Vitamins and Minerals 4 MIN READ 73 VIEWS November 27, 2021

Importance of Vitamin D for the Elderly?

Written By HealthKart

Importance of Vitamin D
Function of Vitamin D
Reasons for Vitamin D Deficiency
Importance of Vitamin D3
Vitamin D for Seniors Dosage
Vitamin D Side Effects
Conclusion

Vitamin D is one nutrient that is highly essential for bone health from childhood till old age. The absorption of calcium is very crucial to promote the growth of bones. Lack of Vitamin D results in soft bones in children and leads to Rickets. Vitamin D deficiency in the elderly leads to fragile bones that lead to a condition called Osteomalacia where the bones get distorted. Not only for bone health but Vitamin D is essential for various other functions of the body as well. To prevent bone health issues that could lead to immobility, the required level of Vitamin D in the body is a must. The importance of Vitamin D is not limited to old age. Questions like “what is Vitamin D” and “why is it important” have been addressed in this article.

Function of Vitamin D 

Vitamin D, though the name suggests, is not a vitamin but a prohormone or a forerunner of a hormone. The body in itself cannot produce Vitamin D and the daily diet should include foods that are rich in Vitamin D. You can derive Vitamin D by exposing yourself to sunlight for some time in a day, as it is the most natural source.

The importance of vitamin D for the functioning of the human body is immense. An adequate amount of Vitamin D is to maintain the strength of bones and teeth along with various other benefits. Deficiency in Vitamin D can generate symptoms of fatigue, depression as well as muscle weakness. The importance of Vitamin D in human body is immeasurable and is explained below. 

1. Maintains Bone Health 

The main function of Vitamin D is to control the calcium level and maintain the level of phosphorus in our body. The safe levels of calcium and phosphorus are reflected in bone health.

The importance of Vitamin D is attributed to the proper functioning of the intestines to boost calcium absorption and retention of the calcium, which otherwise would be excreted by the kidneys. Vitamin D deficiency in children leads to soft bones that would result in Rickets, a disease that would give them bowlegs. In adults, the deficiency of Vitamin D weakens the muscles and reduces bone density. When it comes to elderly, vitamin D helps prevent Osteomalacia and Osteoporosis.

2. Keeps Infants Healthy 

Infants with the required levels of Vitamin D were far more healthy than infants who lacked Vitamin D. High blood pressure and hardness of the artery wall in infants are due to depleted levels of Vitamin D. Infants with Vitamin D deficiency are more prone to allergic reactions. 

3. Beneficial to Pregnant Women 

It helps maintain the health of pregnant women. Pregnant women with Vitamin D deficiency face the risk of premature delivery. They can also develop gestational diabetes and bacterial vaginosis. Children of mothers who had Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy have a higher risk of allergies for the first 2 years.

Reasons for Vitamin D Deficiency

After understanding the main function of Vitamin D it is crucial to learn about the reasons for such deficiency.  The reasons are many but sun rays being the most natural source of Vitamin D when not absorbed sufficiently can cause the deficiency. The reasons for not getting enough exposure to sun rays are:

1. Pigmentation is one of the main reasons for inhibiting the absorption of UV rays from the sun. The ability to absorb UV rays reduces if you are dark-skinned and to produce Vitamin D the skin needs to absorb sunlight efficiently.

2. Protecting the skin from sun rays with sunscreen lotions can be another reason for not getting enough sunlight. This in turn reduces the production of Vitamin D and causes deficiency.

3. The geographical location is as important. People who live in high altitudes, work night shifts, live in northern areas have little exposure to sunlight. They should try to get Vitamin D through food sources or through Vitamin D supplements.

4. Infants who are not weaned off breastfeeding for a long time need Vitamin D supplements as also children who are exposed to sunlight as much as required

Importance of Vitamin D3

Vitamin D is made of Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. There is not much difference between the two, except that the enzymes required for their activation are different. 

The importance of Vitamin D3 is in:

  • Strengthening the bones and muscles
  • Maintaining heart health
  • Boosting immunity
  • Enhancing the mood

Vitamin D for Seniors Dosage

The importance of Vitamin D3 for elders is critical, as the deficiency leads to brittle bones that increases the risk of fractures. Vitamin D for seniors dosage is based on the age, as mentioned below:

  • Up to 70 years: 600 IU
  • Above 70 years: 800 to 1000 IU

When you reach the age of 65, it is essential for you to get a blood test done and get a tailor-made treatment plan if required. Also, one of the reasons why adults develop the deficiency is they restrain from exposure to sunlight to prevent skin damage. However, Vitamin D can be derived from the following food sources:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Trout
  • Swordfish
  • Milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Cereals
  • Soy milk or almond milk
  • Cow’s milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Eggs
  • Beef Liver

Vitamin D Side Effects

Consuming Vitamin D in moderation and up to the required level is absolutely safe. Its overdose, at any age, can cause some side effects like:

  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Constipation
  • Poor appetite
  • Formation of kidney stones due to excess absorption of calcium

Conclusion

The importance of Vitamin D is in the development and functioning of various organs in the body. You should always try to get the daily required intake of Vitamin D through natural food sources or the best source i.e., sunlight. For any reason, if you are not able to get adequate dosage of Vitamin D through food sources, the alternate source will be Vitamin D supplements.

You realise the importance of Vitamin D essentially when you experience the effects of deficiency. Its deficiency can give you symptoms like muscle weakness or ache, depression, heart-related issues, fatigue, etc. If you have a doubt about the Vitamin D level, get a simple blood test done and then consult your physician regarding the supplements if you need to take one.

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