Family Resources Blog - Los Angeles County & Ventura County

Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency in Seniors During Winter

By George & Patricia Jones

Vitamin D Deficiency in Seniors

Seniors, like all of us, need all the essential vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. As we age, our bodies begin to be depleted of certain vitamins for many reasons. This can put the senior at risk for many diseases such as diabetes and osteoporosis, among many others. Heart disease and cancer remain two of the top diseases that take people far too young, so getting proper nutrition is vital. For aging adults whose bodies don’t absorb vitamins as easily, it’s even more important. During the winter months, Vitamin D is often depleted due to lack of sunlight and time outdoors. This problem can be even more compounded because vitamin D is not found naturally in many foods like other nutrients are.

So how much vitamin D do seniors need on a daily basis?

While opinions vary among experts, most can agree that vitamin D can be depleted among seniors. Two of the top health agencies agree that the following guidelines should be followed for adequate vitamin D intake among seniors:

• 600 IU daily for everyone up to age 70
• 800 IU for seniors age 70 and over

Some agencies argue that these numbers should be a lot higher, especially when considering bone health. It certainly is not out of the question for senior adults to take up to 1000 IU of vitamin D daily as they age, especially women.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

It can be tough to recognize a deficiency of vitamin D in seniors. The symptoms are often not very easy to pinpoint and can easily be mistaken for other issues or problems. Here are a few symptoms that you can be aware of:

• Weakness and fatigue that is hard to shake
• Muscle weakness and pain
• Swelling of joints and bones
• Concentration difficulty, or keeping focused 
• Sweating, even though it’s not unusually hot

The good news is that if you suspect a deficiency, there are blood tests that can help the physician determine the problem. If getting outside is difficult, you should stay aware of the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency so it can be dealt with quickly. There are OTC supplements as well as some higher forms of supplements that come through prescription only. These higher doses often are taken only until blood tests reveal that they have returned to normal ranges.

For more information on how to spot vitamin deficiencies in older adults, contact us today.