Most of the nutrients the body needs come from the foods we eat. Vitamins are organic compounds that our body needs to perform normal metabolic function. Vitamin D is the one exception to that. Vitamin D is produced by the body by chemical reaction when the skin is exposed to UVB rays produced by the sun. And while a diet rich in vitamin D can help supplement what a person needs for normal vitamin D levels, generally, food only provides about 10 percent of what a person needs.
As we come off of the winter months, when sunlight is low and cold temps often keep us inside, seniors are especially likely to have vitamin D deficiency. The signs of being deficient in vitamin D are subtle and often mimic many other symptoms for other conditions, but if you find your elderly parent is suffering with any of these symptoms, ask the doctor to do a simple blood test to check your parent’s vitamin D levels.
If your parent has been feeling a heaviness in his legs or has needed extra help from you or his senior care provider with walking up the stairs, this muscle weakness could be caused by a too low amount of vitamin D in his system. His body uses vitamin D to aid in calcium absorption, keeping his bones, muscles, and teeth in good condition so when if his levels are too low, he might directly feel that in the inability to use his muscles in ways he was previously able to.
Pain and Fatigue
A low level of vitamin D can cause extra fatigue as well as pain in areas of the back, shoulders, and rib cage. These aching areas can compound the fatigue already being felt by the lack of vitamin D. If your parent has complained to you or his senior care provider about feeling especially tired or having sore, stiff joints and muscles, he might need to add some more vitamin D to his diet or start getting outside a bit more.
Vitamin D has an important role in regulating appetite and body weight. Lower levels of vitamin D can be associated with obesity, whereas increased vitamin D levels have been linked with body fat reduction. If your aging parent is vitamin D deficient, the signals to the brain regarding hunger get disrupted and he may not know when to stop eating. This could cause your parent to overeat and gain weight.
Vitamin D helps the body release dopamine and serotonin, which are both known to help elevate a person’s mood. Someone with a lower level of vitamin D may suffer from depression or other mental health disorders. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is common among people who live in areas that have a lack of sun (such as many northern states during the winter) and therefore often have a lack of vitamin D. If your parent is suffering from feeling depressed, it could be his lack of vitamin D and sunshine.
The good news is that if your parent does have vitamin D deficiency, his doctor should easily be able to prescribe some supplements to get his levels back up to a healthy spot quickly. In the meantime, as temps warm and days get longer, enlist your senior care provider to help you get your parent outside in the sun a bit more often.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring Senior Care in Charleston, SC, contact Heart of the Carolinas Home Care at 864-991-3116. Providing Home Care Services in Greenville, Simpsonville, Greer, Anderson, Spartanburg, Mauldin, Seneca, Laurens, Charleston, Columbia and the surrounding areas.
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