Why is vitamin D important for the over 65s

Most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need by eating a healthy balanced diet and by getting some sun. However if you are over 65 the NHS recommend you take daily vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D deficiency is an established risk factor for osteoporosis, falls and fractures.

So what does Vitamin D do?

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium.  Without sufficient vitamin D bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Muscles need it to move,  nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and every body part, and the immune system needs vitamin D to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.  Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.

Why is it recommmended that the over 65s take a daily vitamin D supplement?

The older you get the more you are less likely to particpiate in outdoor activites and if you are outdoors you are more likely to cover up, therefore limiting sun exposure (sun exposure through a window does not count). Of course sun exposure needs to be approached with caution due to the risk of skin cancer.

If you don’t like taking supplements the 5 best food sources of vitamin D are:

  • cod liver oil
  • oily fish
  • margarine
  • beef liver
  • egg yolk

How much vitamin D do I need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for Vitamin D is 600 IU (15 mcg) for both male and female between the ages of 51-70.

There are medications which can interfere with the bodies utilisation of vitamin D therefore if you are on medication it may be worth talking to your GP before taking a supplement.

NHS Choices – Vitamin D

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