As basic as our need for water, sunlight is an ingredient for healthy bodies and minds. Known as the sunshine vitamin, we produce Vitamin D in response to exposure to sunlight. It is necessary for strong bones. Bone pain and muscle weakness are ways our bodies may reflect a deficiency.
Low blood levels of Vitamin D are also associated with cognitive impairment in older adults, heart disease and cancer.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin stored in the body so supplement levels should be checked and managed by a healthcare provider. Sitting outside on sunny days for about 10 minutes is an easy way for most people to increase levels naturally.
Working with healthcare providers to monitor Vitamin D levels as we age is good prevention practice. Build bone and muscle, reduce the risk of falls, reduce the incidence of certain cancers and possibly prevent diabetes.
Ongoing research regarding the link between Vitamin D deficiency and dementia offers hope for preventing or delaying onset Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Study results recently published by lead author “David Llewellyn, of the University of Exeter Medical School, concluded that “we expected to find an association between low vitamin D levels and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but the results were surprising – we actually found that the association was twice as strong as we anticipated.” The study showed a strong link between dementia and a Vitamin D deficiency, but researchers are not yet ready to say that a Vitamin D deficiency causes dementia. Clinical trials and further research are needed to establish whether adequate levels of the vitamin can prevent, treat, or delay Alzheimer’s.” (Source, Alzheimers.net)
When the local weather forecast predicts warm, sunny days I encourage my home bound clients and caregivers to spend time outdoors. Enjoying a sunny afternoon outside reaps multiple benefits for our elders: fresh air, a change of scenery, exercise, opportunities to socialize and boost production of the sunshine vitamin.