Is Vitamin D a Wonder Supplement?

Is Vitamin D a Wonder Supplement?

Vitamin D is amazing. The vitamin D that is naturally present in your skin is synthesized by sunlight, which then allows it to do good work in the body, such as growing stronger bones, improving your mood, and protecting your cognitive health. But that’s just the tip of the very healthy iceberg of what vitamin D can do for you.

Let’s start with the big question: Do you have enough vitamin D in your body?

Symptoms of Low Vitamin D

A blood test can determine if you have enough of this wonder vitamin in your body. But you might see and feel the signs of vitamin D deficiency well before you get those test results back. According to the Cleveland Clinic, these are the typical symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency:1

·        Mood changes, especially depression, can occur with the slightest vitamin D deficiency. This is more common during the winter months, and it even has a name: Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. If you’re dealing with SAD, supplements will help, and you might notice that your mood suddenly lifts in the spring.

·        Bone pain can be one of the more severe symptoms. It might feel like every bone in your body aches, even if you aren’t moving around. The constant ache can make also affect your mood, making the negative feelings of depression seem much worse.

·        Muscle weakness is common with vitamin D deficiency. In addition, you might feel muscle cramps and aches. As with the other symptoms, the severity can vary from one person to another. What doesn’t change, however, is the fact that muscle weakness can easily lead to falls. That higher fall risk means that an emergency button alarm should be your constant companion. If you do suffer a fall, you can reach out for help in literally a few seconds.

·        Fatigue is also a sign of vitamin D deficiency. Though it might sometimes be attributed to other things, such as depression, many find that the fatigue is their only symptom. The fatigue might be mild enough that it simply makes you want to go to bed early to severe enough that it’s hard to get out of bed. Deep fatigue is another of those problems that can make you a greater fall risk; Frontiers in Public Health found that fatigue is a “significant” factor in falls among the elderly.2

But how does a senior get low vitamin D levels? As mentioned earlier, not getting enough sunlight can be a major factor. If your body doesn’t absorb vitamin D as well as it should, that can lead to lower levels, even if you do get out in the sun for plenty of time. Some situations clearly linked to lower vitamin D include weight-loss surgeries and medications that interfere with the synthesis of the vitamin in your body. Talk to your doctor to determine if you are on any of those medications.

The Wonderful Things Vitamin D Does for Senior Health

Here’s what it does for you:

1. It Protects Against Respiratory Illness

Studies during the pandemic found that vitamin D supplements were beneficial in preventing or managing the respiratory symptoms of COVID. Specifically, a 2017 study in the British Medical Journal found that those who took vitamin D supplements were 12% less likely to develop the severe respiratory complications of COVID.3

Though there were limitations to the study that made it difficult to determine if vitamin D was the whole cause of the protection, there’s little doubt that the vitamin plays some role in keeping your lungs healthy. It might even help you avoid the more severe consequences of the flu.

2. It Protects You from Infections

Vitamin D is found in the immune cells of the body. Those vitamin D receptors suggest that the vitamin is important in supporting immune function and helping the body fight off infections. Those who are found to have lower vitamin D levels are also often found to have higher rates of infections than those who have healthy levels. If you are especially prone to infections due to a particular medical condition, such as diabetes, taking a vitamin D supplement year-round might be a very good idea.

3. It Reduces the Risk of Osteoporosis

Vitamin D helps maintain the health of your bones and joints. When you aren’t getting enough vitamin D, your body isn’t holding onto the amount of calcium it needs to keep your bones healthy and strong. That’s because vitamin D is vital to help the absorption of calcium, which in turn helps you avoid osteoporosis. And as you probably already know, osteoporosis is a strong contributor to broken bones, such as hip fractures, in the wake of a fall.

It’s a great idea to speak to your doctor about vitamin D levels and the potential for osteoporosis. In the meantime, stay safe with an alert system for elderly adults. You might not realize that you have low vitamin D, or that you have osteoporosis, until a fall leads to a broken bone. If that does happen, it’s a reassurance that help is only a button push away.

4. It Helps Alleviate Depression

Depression is often linked to a deficiency of vitamin D. In fact, it’s one of the first symptoms you might experience that leads your doctor to test your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” and it stands to reason that if you aren’t getting enough sunlight – such as during the winter months – you might experience seasonal changes in your mood.

But it might also help alleviate depression in those who suffer from chronic medical conditions. For instance, studies have found that those who have diabetes were more likely to see an improvement in their mood when taking high doses of vitamin D under their physician’s supervision. Their depression and anxiety lessened – and some studies suggested that vitamin D could be just as good as antidepressant medications for some who suffer from depression.

5. It Lowers the Risk of Dementia

Did you know that those with a moderate or severe vitamin D deficiency are twice as likely to develop dementia?4 Studies have found that those with a moderate deficiency were 53% more likely to develop various types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s. But those with a severe deficiency were 125% more likely to develop it. Scientists believe that the plaques in the brain that are hallmarks of dementia might be cleared or reduced by adequate levels of vitamin D. That’s an enormous connection that makes it clear how essential vitamin D is for the elderly body and brain.

6. It Makes Glucose Control Easier

Scientists aren’t sure exactly what vitamin D does when it comes to diabetes. It might increase insulin sensitivity, which lowers blood sugar levels. It might reduce inflammation, which can be a problem for those who have type 2 diabetes. The vitamin supports cellular processes, so it might protect the cells from breaking down, which helps prevent diabetes and other conditions.

7. It Could Protect Against Cancer

Many studies have focused on cancer and the state of health at diagnosis. Studies have found that men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer tend to have lower levels of vitamin D in their blood at the time they are diagnosed. This is especially true of those with darker skin, such as African American men. Though studies are not definitive enough to say that vitamin D deficiency leads to cancer, the connection is strong enough to suggest that more vitamin D might be able to help you avoid it.

There is also a link between breast cancer and not getting enough vitamin D. Most studies on breast cancer that included a look at vitamin D found that those with a lower vitamin D level have a higher breast cancer risk. And some more intensive studies found that vitamin D affects the severity of the breast cancer cells, which could make the breast cancer easier to treat. 

8. It Could Improve Sexual Function

Low vitamin D has been linked to severe erectile dysfunction in men. Scientists believe it’s because vitamin D deficiency can make it more difficult for the arteries to dilate, or open up and allow blood flow. Without the proper blood flow, a man won’t have normal erectile function, no matter the age – but since the problem becomes more pronounced as a man ages, it makes sense that vitamin D could significantly help senior men.

9. It Keeps Your Heart Healthy

As mentioned above, a deficiency of vitamin D makes it more difficult for the arteries to open up. This happens in all the arteries of the body. And that can lead to serious consequences, such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack, and more. Vitamin D helps by lowering inflammation, making the arteries more flexible, lowering blood sugar, and lowering high blood pressure. Though vitamin D isn’t proven to prevent heart attacks or stroke, it serves as part of a healthy balance in the body that can lower your risk of those life-threatening issues. Talk to your doctor about testing for Vitamin D and possible supplementation. If your levels are severely low, your doctor may even put you on prescription, ultra-high dose Vitamin D.

And remember, a mobile medical alert pendant is a fantastic idea for anyone, but especially those who have a medical condition. The symptoms might be gradual or they might come on quickly, and they could also come and go – for instance, you might feel fine in the morning but the deep fatigue and muscle weakness hits you without warning in the afternoon. At those moments, having in-home or on-the-go medical alert technology at your fingertips can provide incredible peace of mind.