Archive for Thursday, July 23, 2009

The importance of Vitamin D

July 23, 2009

We knew as kids about the importance of Vitamin D, and in the ’50s when I worked in the dairy and pasteurized milk, we added a fish oil supplement containing vitamin D to the product.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin found in some foods and can be made in your body after exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Sunlight is important but actual sun rays are what produce vitamin D in the body. The sunlight in the winter months is not as beneficial in producing vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorous. It promotes calcium absorption and helps to form and maintain strong bones.

In a previous article I talked about how hearing is important to maintain body balance. That is true, but after visiting our nursing home the last few years, many of the patients are there for therapy after having a bad fall or a broken bone. Much of this is due to a lack of vitamin D.

After age 70, the body needs at least 2,000 IUs of Vitamin D daily to maintain good bone density. According to studies elderly folks should take some Vitamin D supplements, especially in the winter time.

You cannot get the ultraviolet rays through a window. People with darker skin require more sun exposure than light-skinned people to produce the right level of what their body needs. I have also read that a deficiency can affect muscle and brain function, which in many cases can cause old people to fall.

Vitamin D is found in egg yolks, sardines, mackerel, salmon, herring, fish liver oils, shrimp, chicken liver, oysters and fortified foods such as orange juice and milk. It is always important to read the labels on the foods we buy.

The sunshine always makes us feel better and lifts our spirits, but it is not advisable to sit in the bright sun for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Here’s to no falls, regardless of our age.

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