Vitamin D Deficiency after a Long, Cold Northern Michigan Winter
A dose of D might be the needed for Michigan seniors and caregivers
Northern Michigan seniors and caregivers are no doubt happy to see the calendar proclaim that spring has finally arrived. The long, cold winter left many suffering from cabin fever and feeling as if winter would never end. During the winter months, most of us avoid spending much time outdoors. Caregivers are especially reluctant to take a senior loved one out and risk a fall on icy sidewalks. Because of that, Vitamin D deficiency is more common during and after the winter in northern climates like ours.
Most people probably know that Vitamin D is important for bone health. But the benefits of getting enough D extend far beyond our bones. Health professionals now say Vitamin D plays a key role in everything preventing depression to maintaining muscle mass. A severe Vitamin D deficiency has even been linked to an increased risk of developing cancer and heart disease.
How do you know if you or a senior loved one has a Vitamin D deficiency?
Because our bodies process foods differently as we age, it isn’t uncommon for older adults to require supplements to avoid vitamin deficiencies. If you suspect your or your aging loved one is at risk or you just want to make certain they aren’t, talk with the family’s physician. They can order a simple blood test to make a quick determination.
The experts at FamilyDoctor.org also have a complimentary questionnaire you can download and complete for yourself or your loved one. It evaluates the risk for nutrient deficiencies ranging from iron to B-12.
Recommended daily amount of Vitamin D
Your doctor probably has specific guidelines for patients to follow. In general, most recommend:
- Adults aged 70 and under take at least 600 IU per day
- Adults over the age of 70 increase daily Vitamin D intake to 800 IU
Foods rich in Vitamin D
Some foods are naturally high in Vitamin D and others have been enriched during production. Calcium is also important because it helps your body absorb vitamin D. Milk and other dairy products are the foods most commonly associated with calcium and Vitamin D. Other Vitamin D rich foods include fish and oysters, mushrooms, pork, eggs and ricotta cheese. Spinach, okra, kale, almonds and sesame seeds are a few foods rich in calcium.
Foods that are enriched with Vitamin D during the production process can also help you avoid a deficiency. Easy ones to include in to your diet are enriched cereals, orange juice, soy milk and almond milk. Check the labels on your favorite foods to see if they are enriched with Vitamin D or if there is a similar product that is.
Are you a northern Michigan senior or the caregiver for one?
Has your family physician talked with you about Vitamin D deficiency?