What is vitamin D?
To build and maintain healthy bones, the body needs a nutrient called vitamin D. the Body can only absorb calcium, which is the main material of bones, when vitamin D is available. The body makes vitamin D when direct sunlight converts a chemical in the skin into the active form of the vitamin (calciferol).
Vitamin D is a little different than other vitamins because it is produced by the body in a chemical reaction that occurs when the skin is exposed to UVB rays from the sun.
The amount of vitamin D your skin produces depends on many factors, including the time of day, season, latitude, and skin pigmentation. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, vitamin D production may decrease or be completely absent during the winter months. Although sunscreen is important for skin cancer prevention, it can also reduce vitamin D production.
But the role of vitamin D is not limited to bone formation, but this vitamin also regulates many other cellular functions in the body, for example its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties supports immune health, muscle function and the brain cell activity.
Reasons for vitamin D deficiency in the elderly and ways to diagnose it
Since the elderly spend most of their time indoors, they are less exposed to natural sunlight. In addition, as the skin thins with age, the synthesis of vitamin D is much less. In addition, the loss of appetite and impaired absorption of nutrients aggravates this problem for the elderly.
If the doctor suspects that the person is not getting enough vitamin D, a simple blood test can check the level of this vitamin in the blood.
The effect of vitamin D consumption on other diseases
The diseases mentioned below can be cured by taking the right dose of vitamin D. Some of these diseases include:
- Cognitive health
- Inherited bone disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
- Heart disease and high blood pressure
- Viral infections such as influenza and corona
Taking vitamin D in adequate doses is generally considered safe.
However, taking too much vitamin D in the form of supplements can be harmful, and some people, such as children, adults, and pregnant and breastfeeding women, may experience symptoms such as the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Poor appetite and weight loss
- Confusion and disorientation
- Heart rhythm problems
- Kidney stones and kidney damage
The best dose of vitamin D for each person depends on the blood test and the amount of vitamin D shown in it, which should be checked and prescribed by a doctor. Because the amount needed by each person can depend on various factors.
Older people need to have enough vitamin D in their diet to maintain bone health and prevent bone or muscle damage when they fall.
Due to the increased need for vitamin D and the decrease in its natural production in the elderly, many people over the age of 65 need to take vitamin D supplements or eat foods containing vitamin D.
This means that you either need to eat foods rich in vitamin D or take supplements to help you get the amount you need. Some of the best foods to eat if you are vitamin D deficient include:
- Milk (fortified)
- Yogurt (fortified)
- Cereals (fortified)
- Soy, almond, and oat milk
- Cow's Milk
- Beef liver
Often, vitamin D pill forms are large and difficult for the elderly to swallow. To avoid this, chewable versions of these products can be prepared.
The effect of vitamin D deficiency in the elderly and its symptoms
Lack of vitamin D in the bones can cause them to become soft and brittle, resulting in osteoporosis, especially in the elderly. If you don't get enough vitamin D from sunlight or food sources, you may need vitamin D supplements.
According to the Endocrine Society, a vitamin D diet alone cannot be effective because most people only get about 10 percent of their dietary vitamin D needs from the foods they eat. Even though many foods are fortified with vitamin D, such as dairy products, orange juice, and cereals, the amounts these products contain are still below the recommended daily allowance (600 IU for adults aged 19-70 and 800 international units for adults over 70).
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency in the elderly:
- Weak Muscles
- Changes in Mood and Cognitive Function
- Weight Gain
- Digestive Issues
A combination of symptoms caused by low vitamin D, such as fatigue, pain, and depression, can easily be misdiagnosed or dismissed as inevitable side effects of aging. But by doing a simple blood test and examining it by a doctor, we can easily find out about the lack of this vitamin in the body of our beloved elderly.
The difference between vitamin D and vitamin D3
Vitamin D exists in two forms known as vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. There are many differences between vitamin D and vitamin D3, but the main difference between them is that vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that regulates calcium and phosphorus levels in the body, while vitamin D3 is the natural form of vitamin D. And it is produced by the body from sunlight. Below are more differences between vitamin D3 and vitamin D.
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin D3
Vitamin D is an important vitamin obtained from sunlight. It is essential for strong bones and helps the body use calcium in the diet. Low levels of vitamin D may lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease, severe asthma in children, etc.
Vitamin D3 can affect over 2,000 genes in the body. Responsible for gene regulation. It has a great effect on bone health, insulin control, low blood pressure, cancer prevention, etc.
The main difference between vitamin D3 and vitamin D is that vitamin D3 is a subtype of vitamin D that is produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
Best time to take vitamin D
There is no specific time of day when it is best to take vitamin D supplements.
Some people say that taking vitamin D supplements at night causes insomnia in them. There's no research to back this up, but if you think it's disturbing your sleep, you can take your supplement earlier in the day. Plus, taking vitamin D in the morning can make it easier to remember.
More important than when to take vitamin D is to take your supplements with food, especially supplements that contain healthy fats. It can improve absorption in the small intestine.