Protects against Colds and Flu
Most seniors today may remember how when they were little kids their mothers fed them a spoonful of cod liver oil every day in the winter to protect them from colds and flu. Cod liver oil is a rich source of Vitamin D and scientific studies show that indeed Vitamin D can offer protection against colds and flu by boosting the immune system.
Low Levels Vitamin D Pose Risk for Diseases
Other studies also suggest that low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to cognitive decline in seniors, to Parkinson’s Disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS), high blood pressure and cardio vascular disease (CVD).
Vitamin D May Lower the Risk for Cancer
Preventing cancer, has also been linked to having sufficient levels of Vitamin D. In fact, a study from Japan published March 7, 2018, claims that the risk for cancer in both men and women can be lowered by having higher circulating blood levels of Vitamin D. In particular, the risk for liver cancer in men can be lowered. However, more research needs to be carried out to see exactly how much Vitamin D is needed to cut the risk of cancer and of course to avoid toxicity, as Vitamin D levels that are too high can have dangerous side effects.
Protects the Bones
Vitamin D also protects seniors by the beneficial effect it has on bone health. Vitamin D plays a major role in calcium absorption and also helps to maintain adequate levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. A lack of Vitamin D can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia (weak bones) in adults. Vitamin D has a very big role in preventing and treating osteoporosis, a disease that hits mainly post-menopausal women whereby bones lose their minerals, become thinner and break easily.
Best Food Source Fish Liver Oils
Vitamin D is not found readily in foods except for some oily kinds of fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna, egg yolks and fortified milk and other dairy products. Fish liver oils are the best food sources, and a small amount is also found in beef liver.
The Sunshine Vitamin
The main way we get Vitamin D is from exposure to ultra violet rays from the sun. However, there is some evidence that in many seniors there is decreased ability to get Vitamin D from the sun. Also, many seniors just do not get out enough in the sun and then of course there is the climate factor. Harsh winters keep people, especially seniors indoors. Also, with the high rate of skin cancers linked to exposure to the sun, in areas where the rays of the sun are very strong, it is preferable to supplement with Vitamin D rather than risk getting a malignant melanoma (skin cancer).
A relatively simple blood test can show if seniors are deficient in Vitamin D. Too much vitamin D is also not healthy and can damage the heart and liver and also cause the formation of kidney stones. People do not usually get too much Vitamin D from food or the sun, but from taking Vitamin D supplements. Today many people take vitamins without consulting a doctor and subsequently may be harming their health. No one should start supplementation with Vitamin D without being monitored by a doctor. The best way Vitamin D is absorbed is by taking baby Vitamin D drops. If you are deficient, your doctor will tell you how many drops to take and will periodically do more blood tests to make sure you are not getting too much.
Falls, Fractures and Osteoporosis
The greatest danger to seniors deficient in Vitamin D, are fractures from weak and brittle bones mainly caused by osteoporosis. Most fractures are from falls and some like hip fractures can lead to fatal consequences. More than 70% of hip fractures from falls are to senior women, many of whom have weakened bones from osteoporosis, It is estimated that more than 40 million Americans are afflicted or have the potential to contract osteoporosis.
Many studies show that Vitamin D plays an important role in disease prevention and protecting bones. Many seniors are deficient in Vitamin D. Seniors should have the simple blood test and if they are found deficient they should begin supplementation of Vitamin D under the supervision of a doctor.