Research has already shown that roughly one-third of elderly males and one-half of elderly females are deficient in vitamin D. Deficiencies in vitamin D have been linked to several of our most common and deadly diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
As we age, our ability to make vitamin D in the skin lessens, and we have more difficulty absorbing supplemental vitamin D from the gut and metabolizing it in the liver and kidneys. All of these factors favor supplementing with vitamin D and making sure we get adequate, regular exposure to the sun as we get older.
How To Ensure You’re Getting Enough D
When it comes to vitamin D, I would make the following recommendations:
1. Next time you have your cholesterol checked or any blood work done, ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels. If you suffer from or have a family history of osteoporosis, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or any of the other conditions I’ve mentioned above, don’t wait until your next test--get your levels checked now.
2. Make sure you’re getting between 400 and 1,600 IU of vitamin D a day. This is especially important if you spend most of your time indoors or have a history of low sunlight exposure. A good multivitamin/mineral will contain at least 400 IU of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). You can also get this form of vitamin D from eating fish.
3. Make a point to either walk, garden or just sit in full sunlight for 20 to 30 minutes at least 3 times a week.
Now it’s your turn: What activities do you do to make sure you get enough sunlight?