The vitamin you might be missing
It can be hard to make sure you’re getting the right amount of vitamins and nutrients, and one vitamin in particular can be easily overlooked. Especially for older adults, vitamin D is an important nutrient for bone and joint health.
Some adults are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency and can suffer from symptoms like osteoporosis, muscle pain and bone pain. In turn, weakened bones can increase the risk of fractures from falls as people age. Lack of vitamin D is often caused by difficulties absorbing the vitamin and is most common in older adults, people who are obese and people with gastrointestinal problems. For patients who may have part of their colon removed, that can make any issues absorbing vitamin D worse. African Americans are also at higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency, experts say.
Your doctor can help you find out if you’re getting enough vitamin D. Thankfully, getting more vitamin D doesn’t have to be complicated.
“A balance of food and supplements is a good idea,” said Dr. Veitla Rao, an endocrinologist at Aurora Health Center – Good Hope who also consults for patients at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton. “Exercise can also help reduce your risk of falls and fractures by keeping your muscles strong and healthy.”
Most people get plenty of vitamin D in their normal diet. Since many dairy products are fortified with vitamin D, enjoying cheese and milk can be one way to get more vitamin D. Other sources include eggs, salmon and other fatty fish.
“Being outdoors for 10-15 minutes in the sun every day is another good way to get vitamin D,” said Dr. Rao. “Living in a colder state and being bundled up can make that more difficult.”
If diet and getting outside in the sun are not enough, over-the-counter vitamin D supplements can be part of a healthy intake of vitamin D. Look for daily supplements labelled vitamin D3 between 800-1000 IU. It is possible to consume too much vitamin D, so don’t exceed those dosages unless you’ve spoken with your doctor. A simple blood test can give you a better idea of whether your vitamin D levels are in a healthy range.
About the Author
Ben Hoekstra is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He previously worked in marketing and PR for various Milwaukee nonprofits and received his master’s degree in Corporate Communications from Marquette University. He enjoys the outdoors, cooking, and all things Milwaukee.