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Nutrition

Nutrition (2)

Wednesday, December 16, 2020 12:37

Vitamin D is Critical to Healthy Aging

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The winter solstice (Dec. 21st) plays a role in vitamin D deprivation. Often seniors will suffer from bone softening, nausea, cognitive difficulties and frailty. Each of these symptoms can be mistaken for any number of illnesses but could quickly be identified as a lack of Vitamin D by a physician.

The CDC has determined that osteoporosis affects 16% of all seniors. The condition carries serious health risks, potentially leading to falls and other home safety hazards. The clear connection between vitamin D and bone health in the elderly helps defend against bone softening. Vitamin D improves senior mental health, combating prevalent issues like elderly depression. A 2017 study of more than 5,600 older adults found a link between lower levels of vitamin D and depressive symptoms, such as loneliness, lack of enjoyment, and restless sleep.

Study participants with the least amount of vitamin D reported more pronounced mental health concerns. As a result of this emerging science, researchers continue to investigate a potential vitamin D antidepressant.

There are several ways to attain vitamin D benefits:

Sunshine is one of the best natural sources of vitamin D. Take an afternoon walk or invest in a UV lamp for colder months.

  • One tablespoon of cod liver oil supplements 170% of daily vitamin D.
  • Four or five sliced, white mushrooms make up half of the needed vitamin D intake.
  • Three ounces of cooked salmon account for more than 80% of necessary vitamin D.
  • A cup of milk, which is fortified with vitamin D, contains 20% of the daily recommended vitamin D value.

Beyond these natural sources, a doctor or dietitian may recommend a vitamin D supplement, after ruling out medication interactions or other health risks.

Sources:

Madi M, et al. “The association between vitamin D level and periodontal disease in Saudi population, a preliminary study.” 
sciencedirect.com

Yao P, Bennett D, Mafham M, et. al. “Vitamin D and calcium for the prevention of fracture.” 
jamanetwork.com

Kweder H, Eidi H. “Vitamin D deficiency in elderly: Risk factors and drugs impact on vitamin D status.” 
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

aplaceformom.com

 

Nutritional fads come and go. But one fad which seems to have elevated to a gold-standard of credibility has been the so-called "Mediterranean Diet". The Mediterranean diet recommends eating lots of plant-based foods mainly fruits, vegetables, and legumes and foods infused with monounsaturated fat such as olive oil. This popular diet acquired high acclaim in the US as a nutritional best-practice in preventing heart disease after a five-year study by a group of Spanish nutrition scientists caused the New England Journal of Medicine, NEJM, to publish its conclusions suggesting that the Mediterranean diet can decrease risk of heart attack and strokes. The study concluded: prolonged exposure to the Mediterranean diet produced a substantial reduction in risk of major heart disease among high-risk people.

Recently, a statistical sleuth named John Carlisle exposed many flaws in the study namely its claim to have assigned people randomly to the study and other anomalies. Carlisle’s analysis refuted the study’s findings thus discrediting it, causing the NEJM in the summer of 2018, to retract the original publication. This turn of events has re-ignited the debate on what is optimal diet for seniors in later life and whether nutrition can have a positive impact on the health and wellness of very old adults? Ironically, much the Mediterranean diet compares agreeably to nutritional best-practice recommendations of public health organizations and other accredited bodies but without all the feigned notoriety. Yet, to deliver nutritional best-practices in later stages of life requires that special accommodation be made to address health-status changes.

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