Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and strengthen your bones. Vitamin D may even help you live longer. However, many seniors simply don’t get enough of this important vitamin.
One of the best sources of the “sunshine vitamin” is, of course, the sun but you probably spend more time inside than out these days. You may also not eat enough foods that are naturally rich in the vitamin, like salmon, tuna and mackerel as well as fish liver oils. You’ll also find small amounts of vitamin D in beef liver, egg yolks and mushrooms. Many staples, such as milk, yogurt, orange juice and cereal, are fortified with the vitamin (check the label to be sure).
But there’s more to it than that …
As we age, our bodies simply don’t produce the vitamin when exposed to the sun as readily as we used to. We also don’t absorb it as well from foods as when we were younger. Other factors that put us at high risk for vitamin D deficiency are dark skin, obesity, digestive diseases and chronic kidney disease.
What to do about it.
Your physician will use a blood test to test for sufficient amounts of vitamin D in your body. If you’re found to be deficient, he or she may recommend a supplement. But always be sure to take only what’s recommended and have your vitamin D levels rechecked.
Is there such a thing as too much?
Whereas water-soluble vitamins are eliminated from your body through your urine, vitamin D supplements are fat-soluble. What you don’t need is stored in the fatty tissues of your body and can become toxic if you’re taking more of the supplement than you need (you can not overdose on the vitamin D you get from the sun). Signs you may be storing too much vitamin D are nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, weight loss, kidney stones, high blood pressure, among others.
Share your experiences with the sunshine vitamin.