Has your senior’s doctor advised that he or she increase the amount of vitamin D taken daily?
If so, they’re not alone. A new study by the Endocrine Society has found that most people are not consuming enough vitamin D to maintain strong bones.
Having strong bones as we age is paramount to the prevention of fractures, which are life changing for too many seniors.
Considering the staggering statistics of how many seniors fall each day, fracturing brittle bones, we should all be aware of the importance of adequate vitamin D intake and other strategies to keep our bones as strong as possible.
Latest Recommendations for Vitamin D
As part of the battle against brittle bones, many seniors’ doctors are recommending changes in their vitamin D intake in line with these recommendations.
- Get serum vitamin D levels checked to determine whether a supplement is required and, if so, how much
- If serum D levels are below 30, it is considered insufficient and a value below 20 is considered deficient, you will be advised to take a vitamin D supplement
- A goal should be to maintain a serum D level between 40 and 60, according to researchers
- Bone building medication function is enhanced when serum D levels are in the sufficient range
Who is At Risk?
While many seniors are at risk of fractures due to brittle bones, they are not the only ones.
- All adults and children with deficiency
- Anyone with a diagnosis of osteomalacia or osteoporosis
- Seniors who have had a fall with a fracture
- Anyone who has had bariatric surgery
- Patients with a diagnosis of malabsorption syndrome
- People who are obese
- Those with chronic kidney disease, sarcoidosis or liver failure
- Anyone taking anti-seizure medications, glucocorticoids, AIDS drugs, or anti-fungal drugs
Vitamin D Sources
There are many ways we can help our senior loved ones get the vitamin D their healthcare providers recommend.
- Milk fortified with vitamin D, cheese, beef liver and egg yolks
- Salmon, tuna and mackerel
- Orange juice that has been fortified with Vitamin D
- Some breakfast cereals (be sure to check the label)
- Nutritional supplements – recommended amount for adults is 1,500 to 2,000 IU daily; if a deficiency has been found your senior’s doctor may recommend a higher amount
- Sunshine – 15 minutes per day without sunscreen (but be sure not to overdo it due to risk of skin cancer)
Strategies to Build Bones
Exercise, especially weight bearing varieties has been shown to strengthen bones. Participating four times a week in activities such as walking, low impact aerobic exercise, tai chi, yoga, stair step machines and weight lifting can improve bone strength. Non impact activities that improve balance will have a positive affect by muscle strengthening and decreased falls.
Thirty minutes a day is a good place to start. If your senior is having pain with activity, stop and contact your doctor for advice on what type of activities would be best for your senior.
Resistance training activities a few days a week are also recommended to build bone and muscle.
We all need to focus on getting adequate levels of vitamin D and calcium in our diets or via a supplement in order to maintain our health but our senior loved ones are at greater risk for poor outcomes of vitamin D deficiency and bone fractures.
Ask your senior’s doctor to test his or her blood levels so that you both can make a plan to strengthen your senior’s bones (and yours too!).