Written by: Hiyaguha Cohen
July 8, 2020
- Vitamin D deficiency is widespread even in older adults in tropical climates, and the negative effects of a deficiency can be both life-threatening and more pronounced in older people, especially today.
- Aging increases your susceptibility to vitamin D deficiency, but many doctors fail to test it or recommend an appropriate supplement.
- A daily dietary supplement with 1,000 to 2,000 mg of vitamin D makes sense for most seniors.
Effects of vitamin D deficiency
Your body needs enough vitamin D to counteract diseases. Studies show a link between vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular events such as stroke and heart attack, type 2 diabetes, dementia, cancer, multiple sclerosis, infection, irritable bowel syndrome and even obesity. A vitamin D deficiency is even more critical today, since extensive studies with over 11,000 participants have shown that vitamin D supplementation can help protect against acute respiratory infections!
You may have a vitamin D deficiency
Years ago when I was living in Hawaii, my doctor tested my vitamin D levels. "But I live in sunny Hawaii," I protested, not understanding why I needed the test. She informed me that many people in Hawaii lack vitamin D, and my results showed a severe deficiency. My husband's level was also low.
While it is one of the best ways to spend time in the sun to get vitamin D. 80% of our vitamin D comes from UV-B exposure to the sun. However, your time outdoors may not be enough. The simple fact is that most of us avoid direct sunlight after hearing about the risk of sun cancer and wrinkling for years. Even though we're outside, we duck under awnings, opt for shade on the beach, wear sunscreen, wear wide-brimmed hats and clothing that are covered, and stay in air-conditioned places when it gets hot.
A recent study found that people need at least nine minutes of sun exposure a day without sunscreen to avoid vitamin D deficiency. Another study concluded that daily exposure must be at least 30% of her body, which means minimal clothing – shorts and sleeveless tops. In other words, even if you go outside every day, when it is not at noon and if you are a little too covered up, or if you wear sunscreen, you may be deficient. In addition, nine minutes in the midday sun without lotion causes burns and DNA damage in fair-skinned people. When you are older, your body is less efficient at converting sunshine to vitamin D, and your gut does not absorb vitamin D as well from food sources as it did at a young age.
Few doctors test for vitamin D deficiency
Despite the evidence that a large proportion of young and old suffer from vitamin D deficiency, few physicians routinely test this and insurance companies do not recommend it. In a Blue Cross / Blue Shield newsletter from 2015, for example, it says: “Last year 641,000 New Yorkers in the hinterland had their vitamin D levels tested, and about 42 percent did so without medical indication … Even with one Medical indication to be tested In the case of vitamin D deficiency, it is appropriate to question the necessity of the test, since the result does not necessarily change the treatment. "The newsletter continues to complain that the test costs approximately $ 50 per person and" In 2014, an estimated $ 33 million was spent on vitamin D tests in New York State. "
Older bodies are particularly susceptible to vitamin D deficiency
A recent UK study of over 6,000 middle-aged and older adults found that a quarter of those over 50 were vitamin D deficient, while 57 percent had low (but not entirely deficient) vitamin D levels . Deficiency rates were higher in women than in men and non-whites, probably because darker skin is less responsive to sunlight. Other factors that correlated with deficiency were older than 80 years, obesity, smoking, and poor general health.
On the other hand, there was less vitamin D deficiency in those who vacationed in sunny places, exercised regularly, had a healthy body weight, and were retired, perhaps because retirees, unlike workers who were stuck, had leisure get out of their desks at noon.
Previous studies have found much higher deficiency rates among seniors. For example, an article published in the Aging and Disease magazine in 2012 states: “In Europe, representative residents of the SENECA study with older Europeans aged 75 to 76 showed that 36% of men and 47% of women were vitamin D deficient had. most clearly in southern Europe. "
Recommended protocols to combat vitamin D deficiency
One option is to go outside and be exposed to the full sun between noon and two a.m., in skimpy clothes and without sunscreen. Of course, this assumes that it is summer or that you live in a warm area. Even if you are exposed to sufficient sunlight, you should not assume that your vitamin D level is correct, especially if you are dark-skinned, not in shape, older than 50 years or a smoker. Hanging out in the midday sun also increases the risk of skin cancer. There are other options.
It would be advisable to have your vitamin D levels tested (despite the official position of the Blue Cross / Blue Shield), and all the more so if you live in a northern latitude. The next steps to maintaining vitamin D levels after sufficient sunshine are getting in shape when you don't and supplementing yourself.
Jon Barron said in a 2011 newsletter: “It's quite difficult to get enough vitamin from food sources. He therefore recommends consuming 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day. This newsletter clarifies why you need to choose D3 instead of D2 and why it is safe to exceed the very low doses sometimes recommended by doctors.