Vitamin D

It's another beautiful day in your world, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you have a smile on your face. Yet, what if at least one the many things that we take for granted was missing in your daily enjoyment?

Let's say the skies were grey all the time or you simply never had the chance to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Well, that is the harsh reality that many of our seniors face day-in and day-out. They are trapped, for numerous reasons, indoors, away from the sunshine. Now aesthetically that is a terrible fate – to never be outside in the sunshine, but, it becomes even worse when you begin to consider the negative effects of being deprived of the sun's wonderful positive effects on us – Vitamin D.

The 2009 study by The University of Colorado Denver and the Massachusetts General Hospital "shows vitamin D plays a vital role in reducing the risk of death associated with old age." (ScienceDaily, September 21, 2009).

Apparently, death from heart disease was significantly greater in elders who showed a marked deficiency in the vitamin D. And, this lack of vitamin D seems to be more readily apparent in the elderly for a couple of obvious reasons:

  1. As we age, our skin loses its' ability to take in vitamin D (which it produced naturally in our bodies with exposure to sunlight)
  2. Many elders find themselves sequestered indoors due to their lack of ability to perform physical activities as they once did, their long-time friends are also remaining indoors, and they may be living alone which clearly affects one's motivation to "get out and play"

These two points reduce the amount of natural sunshine they are receiving, and thus, a reduction in vitamin D.

How serious are the effects caused by this reduction in vitamin D? A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine identified "vitamin D as playing a significant role in boosting the immune system and warding off colds and flu."

"Insufficient intake of vitamin D may lead to decreased physical strength, increased muscle weakness and increased risk of disability in older women and men," according to a study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. (David Gutierrez, NaturalNews, December 10, 2007). The exposure to natural sunlight for as little as 15 minutes per day can aid in "protecting against cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis, and even the common cold." (Ibid)

Although the lack of vitamin D and its' affects on our elder's health may seem obvious, there are many splintering effects. For example, vitamin D helps with muscle strength and that muscle strength assists in stability, especially when related to mobility. So, a lack of vitamin D in our elderly will directly result in a increase in the risk of falling, which may then lead to more hospitalization and rehabilitations, which means more "down time" for the affected elder, which increases to risk of infection from surgery to repair the broken bone resulting from the fall, which then also reduces muscle mass as a result of inactivity further increasing future falls … you get my point? The lack of vitamin D is a far-reaching problem.

The solution? Well, quite simply, get outside more. Everyone needs to be exercising more anyway, so here is a good reason to get not only our elders outside more, but also our kids who are getting to be slaves to their computers, iPhones, iPads, game machines, etc.

Another solution? Check with your doctor to see if you should be taking a supplemental vitamin D (seems FDA recommendations are not high enough). And, try to remember why you enjoyed sitting in the sun on a beautiful summer day, feeling the sun's heat on your face, with you eyes closed, and not feeling a care in the world. The sun still comes up every day, so you have plenty of opportunities to enjoy this natural way of staying healthy.

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