Vitamin D plays an important role in our health, and it’s essential we obtain enough of it. Seniors are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Risk factors that cause a deficiency are spending less time outdoors, lower intake of vitamin D, and higher adiposity.
A recent study published in the Journal of Aging and Gerontology examined the evidence for links between vitamin D deficiency and age-related diseases. Vitamin D is essential not only to prevent osteoporosis, but can prevent other physical and mental diseases. Having high levels of vitamin D was found to reduce the risk of developing several types of cancer. Males who had the highest levels of vitamin D had a 57% risk reduction of lethal prostate cancer.
Vitamin D is also required for a healthy immune system, and seniors have a harder time fighting infections.
Some of the evidence suggests that higher vitamin D levels can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, and as vitamin D levels rise, the risk of hypertension is reduced.
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to higher fasting glucose levels and a higher risk of insulin resistance.
Vitamin D also plays a role in protecting seniors from mental and cognitive illnesses. A vitamin D deficiency is linked to cognitive decline, an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, and a higher risk of depression.
Although some research suggests beneficial effects of supplementation, randomized controlled trials are underway to examine the effects of supplementing with vitamin D.
To be sure you’re not deficient, have your blood levels tested. In general, many people are deficient, but a test will tell you how low your levels are. Avoid vitamin D2 supplements. A dose of 1000 IU of vitamin D3 per day is a good amount to start with. Vitamin D supplements must be taken with fat for proper absorption. Because vitamin D can affect physical and mental health, it’s important that seniors obtain the correct amount.