Seniors can quickly develop a vitamin D deficiency and family caregivers wouldn’t always notice. The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are subtle, and many people aren’t even sure what to look for. When aging adults go undiagnosed with vitamin D deficiency, however, it can be very damaging to their health. The good news is that there are many ways to prevent or counteract vitamin D deficiency in elderly adults. Once family caregivers recognize the symptoms, they can arrange to visit a physician.
Here are some frequently asked question about vitamin D deficiency in aging adults:
Q: Why is vitamin D so important?
A: Vitamin D affects many areas of the body, especially the nervous system and the brain. It builds strong bones, helps calcium in the bloodstream, fights infection, boosts the immune system and strengthens muscles. With a deficiency, all these body functions struggle to perform the way they should.
Q: Where can people obtain vitamin D?
A: Believe it or not, vitamin D is produced within the human body when UVB rays from the sun trigger production in the skin. When bare skin is exposed to the rays, vitamin D production begins. Some foods also contain vitamin D, including oily fish and egg yolks. To make it easier for people to get vitamin D, some manufacturers include it in certain foods, like milk, juice and cereal.
Q: What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency in seniors?
A: The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can be subtle, especially in elderly adults because they mimic many other age-related conditions. Common symptoms include fatigue, recurring colds, slow healing wounds, muscle and bone pain, gum disease and frequently broken bones.
Q: What do doctors recommend as treatment for vitamin D deficiency?
A: When the body is deficient of vitamin D, doctors want elderly adults to start getting more of it via several different methods. They may recommend vitamin supplements to help boost the amounts. Doctors will also recommend that the elderly person eat more foods that contain vitamin D. Because more than 80 percent of vitamin D in the body is due to sunlight exposure, doctors will talk to family caregivers about getting their aging loved one outside a little more often.
Q: How can family caregivers prevent vitamin D deficiency in aging relatives?
A: One of the best ways to ensure that an elderly adult doesn’t develop a vitamin D deficiency is to hire an elder care provider. The elder care provider can ensure the senior has plenty of opportunity to spend time in the sun, from a short walk to a south- or west-facing porch or patio. Elder care providers are also better able to provide healthy meals that include vitamin D-enriched food and fortified foods.