Numerous research reports have highlighted the fundamental importance of vitamin D, an essential vitamin that helps build and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D also helps the body protect itself from a variety of illnesses and diseases, ranging from diabetes to cancer. Recent research has even shown Vitamin D deficiency to be associated with depression and dementia.
Vitamin D is synthesized by our bodies when sunlight reaches our skin. Many factors can affect the amount of vitamin D that our skin produces, for example, where we live, the time of the year and our skin pigmentation. In cold weather, people tend to be heavily clothed and to spend a relatively short amount of time outdoors. Obviously, absorbing enough vitamin D from sunlight would be difficult in such an environment.
Age is another factor that affects our ability to synthesize vitamin D. Generally speaking, it is harder for elderly adults to synthesize vitamin D. Fortunately, many foods contain vitamin D, including salmon, sardines, fortified milk, and egg yolks. Moreover, Vitamin D supplements are readily available.
Recently scientists at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, conducted a study analyzed the effects of vitamin D on fall risk. The results were published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A.
The research focused on women between the ages of 50 and 70. The participants were divided into three groups:
- Group 1 took 600 IU of vitamin D daily
- Group 2 took 2000 IU of vitamin D daily
- Group 3 took 4000 IU of vitamin D daily.
A very interesting and intriguing set of results was discovered. Group 3 demonstrated improved memory and learning relative to the other two groups. This result was in line with research indicating that vitamin D offers protection from dementia. However, it was also noted that the participants in Group 3 experienced a reduction in reaction times. Slower reaction times can have potentially negative consequences, particularly with regard falling.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 25% of adults above the age of 65 fall each year. Falling, which often leads to broken bones, emergency room visits, and even death, is the leading cause of an elderly person losing their independence.
Currently scientists are uncertain why taking more than 2000 IU of vitamin D per day can lead to slower reaction times. They noted that these slower reaction times were only associated with people above the age of 65. Taking 4000 IU of vitamin D per day for younger people appeared to pose no problem.
The takeaway message for us is to make sure to discuss the amount of vitamin D we are taking with our doctors to ensure they were getting enough vitamin D to remain healthy, but not so much as to create a new risk. As we all know, you can get too much of a good thing.
At the Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, we offer the very best of care in a patient-centered environment. This means following our residents’ health carefully, listening to them, and respecting their capabilities, while helping them to achieve maximum functionality and independence — and always maintaining the highest professional and quality standards in our staff and our facilities. Our 25 years of excellent care have led to us being awarded a Best Nursing Homes award by US News & World Today, a 5-Star rating by USA Today, and an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, among many other awards.
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