Without Vitamin D, the body cannot absorb calcium. Therefore, the body cannot then create healthy teeth and bones. Another benefit of this essential nutrient is warding off cancer as well as diabetes. New research shows negative effects for receiving too much vitamin D, however.
How do we receive vitamin D?
When sunlight reaches the skin, our bodies synthesize vitamin D. We can also receive it from sardines, salmon, canned tuna, shrimp and oysters. Non-fish sources include mushrooms, egg yolks, and fortified food products such as cereal, soy milk and oatmeal.
Skin pigmentation, where we live and season are all factors that affect the amount of this nutrient our bodies produce. During winter, vitamin D levels can drop drastically if not be missing from the body completely.
What are the risks of low vitamin D levels?
Besides those already mentioned, deficiency of this vitamin may play a part in conditions such as dementia, depression and schizophrenia.
Older adults may especially be at risk of developing some conditions when vitamin D levels are not up to par. Some older adults struggle to absorb the nutrient due to lack of sun exposure. When this is the case, a supplement or a multivitamin can improve memory and boost bone health.
How much vitamin D do I need at each age?
These are the recommended daily amounts according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH): 1
Infants 400 IU
Children age 1-13 600 IU
Teens age 14-18 600 IU
Adults age 19-70 600 IU
Adults 71 and older 800 IU
Pregnant and breastfeeding moms 600 IU
What are the risks of excessive vitamin D levels?
While vitamin D is crucial to good health, risks exists for excessive exposure as well. Researchers at Rutgers University found that older women who took more than three times the recommended daily dose who were also overweight showed slower reaction times. 2 Slower reaction times can lead to serious injuries for the elderly from falls.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 1 out of 4 elderly adults fall each year. 3 Scientists at Rutgers University studied the risk factors for falls. After analyzing the effects of vitamin D on three groups of women from ages 50–70 in a randomized controlled trial, they found improvement in memory and learning in those that took more than the recommended daily dose. However, these women also showed slower reaction times.
Examining various doses in people of various ages and different races over a longer period is the next step in investigating this issue.
CCMH is proud to have a variety of general practitioners and specialists to meet your health needs as you age. To find a list of them, visit CcmhHealth.com/Directory.
1 National Institute of Health. Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Consumers. 15 April 2016.
2 Rutgers Today. More Vitamin D May Improve Memory but Too Much May Slow Reaction Time. 13 March 2019.
3 Center of Disease Control (CDC). Important Facts about Falls.
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