Vitamin D deficiency is a pretty common condition. Sadly, very few people realize that their health is at risk, so they choose to ignore the side effects. Even though milk products have substantial quantities of vitamin D, that is still not enough to maintain bone strength and stay healthy.
In fact, the main source of this vitamin is not food, but the sun. Only natural sunlight provides enough for your body to look and feel good. Unfortunately, older adults do not get outside much, and because they spend a lot of time indoors, it is easy for them to become deficient.
Here are five clear signs of vitamin D deficiency to watch out for:
- Weak muscles: In aging adults, this deficiency is strongly linked to weak muscles. Older people are susceptible to developing a deficit due to several factors such as diminished exposure to direct sunlight, insufficient dietary intake, less-than-optimal intestinal absorption, and reduced skin thickness. Weakening of the muscles can manifest in different ways. In general, older adults feel a heaviness in their legs and difficulty with standing up and climbing stairs. The good news is that supplementation can help older adults compensate for these insufficiencies, and thus get back on their feet.
- Mood changes: This is not your average vitamin. In fact, in its activated form, it is a hormone. After your skin has been exposed to UVB rays, it synthesizes the inactive form, which relocates to the kidneys and liver, where it is then activated and ready for use. This hormone helps assimilate calcium, and keeps bones, muscles and teeth in excellent condition. Studies have shown that it is also responsible for activating genes that control the release of neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine); thereby affecting the functions of the brain. Seniors who feel depressed and tired all the time may actually suffer from a this deficiency. (Learn more about the Link Between Depression and Dementia.)
- Weight gain: Research claims that, together with a hormone called leptin, it helps regulate body weight. Leptin is manufactured inside the body's fat cells and works by delivering signals to the human brain, basically letting a person know that they're full and they can stop eating. Vitamin D controls leptin levels inside the body, making sure that the right signals are sent to the brain. When someone is deficient, these signals get disrupted and the body doesn't know when to stop eating. This can make people overeat and gain weight.
- Fatigue: Many older adults who feel tired do not realize that they might have a deficiency, so they choose to ignore their symptoms. Someone who has stiff joints and is constantly feeling fatigued might want to boost their intake (especially if they do not go outside much or do not eat many milk products). Apart from fatigue, this deficiency may also trigger pain in the legs and difficulty moving around the house.
- Stomach problems: This deficiency may lead to inflammatory bowel disease, which is a chronic illness that causes swelling and irritation in the digestive tract. This condition is split into two main types: ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Older adults are more predisposed to developing inflammatory bowel disease because they are susceptible to this deficiency. Gut problems are unpleasant and they can also tamper with the fat absorption process. Since it falls into the category of fat-soluble vitamins, insufficiencies may trigger severe gastrointestinal problems. (Discover what it is like to Live with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.)
Vitamin D is an extremely important nutrient that the body needs to function properly, and insufficiencies may trigger severe health problems. Older adults who get little sunlight should make a lifestyle change if they want to preserve their health, maintain strong bones and have a healthy digestive tract.
Exposure to more natural sunlight, especially in the morning, is a simple activity that will yield positive results. Take relaxing walks to the park and enjoy the beautiful weather. This will boost your mood and keep your bones strong and healthy. Supplements may be advised if your deficiency is extremely severe, but it is a decision you'll have to discuss with your physician before starting.
Jefferey Morgan writes for Nuique which offers Vegan Omega 3 Supplements and Natural Health Products. He has a great experience in writing about health and fitness related issues and poses a deep knowledge in this field.