Our bodies need vitamin D to absorb calcium and promote healthy bone growth. We get most of our vitamin D through exposure to the sun. Still, in the winter, when sunny days are fewer and cold temperatures keep us inside, it can be challenging to get all the vitamin D we need. If you don’t get enough sunlight, you should shoot for 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day.
Dangers and Symptoms of Low Vitamin D Levels in Older Adults
- Weak muscles
- Mood disorders such as depression
- Lowered cognitive abilities
- Weight gain
- Digestive issues such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Osteomalacia and osteoporosis
- Higher risk for certain cancers
Bringing Sunshine to The Table
The recommended daily value of vitamin D from foods is 800 IU. Fortunately, several foods can give us the additional vitamin D we need.
Oily Fish: Trout, salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel
- A piece of salmon, the size of your hand, can give you 90% of your DV (daily value) of vitamin D.
- Wild-caught fish has significantly higher levels than farmed.
- Three ounces of tuna can give you 50 percent of your daily intake.
- One 3 oz can of sardines has 40% of your daily value of vitamin D.
- A nice bonus is that all “Oily” fish are also good for your memory and improving brain function because of Omega 3’s
What if I don’t like fish?
Did you know they make flavored fish oils now that completely mask the taste? Barlean’s Orange Creme is one we have tried, and it tastes like a popsicle. No Kidding!
Fortified Sources of Vitamin D
- Cow’s Milk
- Orange Juice
- Soy Milk
- Cereal and Oatmeal
Vitamin D is found in its highest concentration in animal products. Because of this, vegetarians and those who don’t like fish will need to work harder to get appropriate levels of vitamin D3 in their diets.
- Many diets these days preach the benefits of egg whites as a great source of protein – and they are! BUT if you want to use eggs to supplement your vitamin D intake, be sure to use the whole egg in your recipe and not just the egg whites.
- You can find eggs at farmers’ markets, and some stores from chicken fed a diet of vitamin D enriched feed. These yolks contain much higher levels of vitamin D.
- One egg yolk from a commercially raised hen contains 5% of your daily value. So you will need to include other sources of vitamin D.
If seniors associate aging with poor health, remind them that the two are not the same. Focus on all the abilities seniors still have—frame health as an opportunity instead of a chore. Get in touch if your loved one needs regular encouragement to eat healthily and stay active! 615-422-7549