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Vitamin D

Many people are low in vitamin D, but older adults are even more likely to be deficient in it for two reasons, according to Woods. First, older people tend to eat less, so they often don’t consume as much food containing vitamin D as younger people. Second, they might spend less time outside and have less exposure to sunlight, which prompts the body to make its own vitamin D. What’s more, an older person’s skin doesn’t make vitamin D as efficiently as a younger person’s skin, and an older person’s kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form than a younger person’s kidneys.

A lack of this vitamin also lowers bone density, increasing one’s risk for osteoporosis. A multivitamin containing calcium is helpful because vitamin D is absorbed by the body more easily if it’s consumed alongside calcium, says Woods. In a 2020 meta analysis in the journal Medicine, researchers found that a supplement containing both vitamin D and calcium helped prevent bone fractures in older adults and that vitamin D3 specifically appeared to help prevent falls[5].

Breakfast is a good time to take supplements, says Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, a registered dietitian in New York City. “You can make it part of your daily morning routine, and you absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K better with food,” she says.

Food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, cheese and mushrooms, as well as fortified milks, orange juices and cereals.

Vitamin D has several important functions in the body:

Promotes calcium absorption: Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the intestines, which is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. It works in coordination with calcium to support proper bone growth and density.

Bone health: Vitamin D is crucial for preventing conditions like osteoporosis and fractures. It aids in bone formation and remodeling, and helps to prevent bone loss.

Immune system regulation: Vitamin D plays a role in modulating the immune system, helping to enhance the body's defense mechanisms and prevent infections. It is also involved in regulating the immune response and reducing inflammation.

Cardiovascular health: Adequate levels of Vitamin D help to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. It has been associated with reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension and heart attacks.

Mood regulation: Vitamin D may have an impact on mood and mental well-being. Research suggests that low levels of Vitamin D may be linked to depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Cell growth and differentiation: Vitamin D is involved in the regulation of cell growth, proliferation, and differentiation. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of various organs and tissues in the body.

Muscle function: Vitamin D is essential for muscle strength and function. It helps to prevent muscle weakness and atrophy.

Vitamin D can be obtained through exposure to sunlight, consumption of certain foods such as fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products, and through dietary supplements. However, excessive intake of Vitamin D can be toxic, so it is important to maintain a balance and consult a healthcare professional for appropriate supplementation.

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