Everything You Need to Know to Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency During the Winter
Winter can present a variety of health concerns for seniors in colder climates. One that is often overlooked is a vitamin D deficiency.
Because seniors who live further north typically spend less time outdoors on frosty winter days, they aren’t exposed to the sun’s rays. That lack of exposure to sunlight can result in less vitamin D being produced by the body.
Vitamin D and Healthy Aging
For many years, the role vitamin D played in aging well wasn’t fully understood, but we now know that vitamin D impacts wellness in many ways. When the body is deprived of adequate amounts of vitamin D, the risk for these medical issues can increase:
- Cardiac disease
- Cognitive issues, such as confusion, memory loss, and forgetfulness
- Deep muscle pain and muscle fatigue
- Frequent bone fractures
- Type 2 diabetes
- Multiple sclerosis
- Breast, thyroid, lung, colorectal, and prostate cancer
Recognizing the Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
One challenge caregivers face in recognizing a vitamin D deficiency is that the symptoms can be very vague. They are often attributed to another chronic health condition or overlooked entirely.
Common signs of vitamin D deficiency:
- Lack of energy that doesn’t improve with sleep
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Feeling a little blue
- Sweaty head despite feeling cold
- Confusion and difficulty concentrating
- Overall feeling of weakness and fatigue
Diagnosing and Treating Vitamin D Deficiency
If you and your loved one aren’t spending much time outdoors this winter, you may want to schedule an appointment with your physician. They can help determine if either of you is deficient in this important vitamin.
The doctor can order a simple blood test if they suspect there is a problem. This will allow them to assess if a deficiency is present and how severe the condition is. Depending on the seriousness of the deficit, the physician may either order a prescription dose of vitamin D or suggest a daily dose of an over-the-counter supplement.
One challenge is that vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in many foods. However, there are some good options, such as:
- Egg yolks
- Beef or calf liver
- Canned tuna or sardines
- Wild-caught fish like salmon and mackerel
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Cow’s milk and almond milk
- Shitake mushrooms
You can also be on the lookout for foods enriched with vitamin D during production, such as orange juice and breakfast cereals.
Finally, calcium helps your body better absorb vitamin D. Make sure to include a few foods that are rich in calcium in your diet:
- Leafy greens
- Navy beans
- Green beans
- Canned salmon
Well-Balanced Meals Every Day
Residents at Sunrise communities enjoy well-balanced meals prepared by an in-house chef every day. Because we know the importance of healthy food choices in aging well, we’ve made it easy for residents and their loved ones to look at the ingredients and nutritional breakdown of every meal, every day.
Just visit our NetNutrition site to take a peek at the meals planned for today!