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  • Cameron Oglesby

Millions may be doing the right thing for the wrong reason

Updated: Nov 14, 2021

Throughout last year, thanks to rumors of vitamin D warding off coronavirus infection, many, many more Americans started taking it – enough to increase vitamin D supplement sales by 41½% compared to 2019, according to Nielsen data.

It turns out, though, that the rumors were probably just that – rumors unsupported by any clinical data so far. National Institutes of Health statistics show that older adults and also people who are obese (40.8% of adults age 65 to 74) have been disproportionately susceptible to the coronavirus. But vitamin D deficiency may be more of a coincidence than a connection.

“We do know that people who have lower blood levels of vitamin D tend to have a higher risk of being infected with COVID,” says Professor JoAnn Manson of Harvard Medical School, “But as we say in epidemiology, ‘Correlation doesn’t prove causation.’ We don’t know for sure that the low vitamin D level is causing an increased risk…” But even if you may have started taking vitamin D supplements for the wrong reason, there are plenty of right reasons not to stop – particularly if you’re 65 or older:

  • Your immune system – Vitamin D helps strengthen your T cells, among others, that help your body resist infections and reduce inflammatory responses.

  • Your bones – Years-long shortages of vitamin D and calcium in your body can bring on osteopenia (low bone mass) or osteoporosis (bone thinning to the point of fragility, particularly in wrists, thighs, necks and vertebrae). That’s why more than half of Americans aged 80 and older (52.9%) have osteopenia and more than a quarter have osteoporosis. In addition to helping strengthen bones on its own, vitamin D also helps your bones absorb more calcium.

  • Your muscles – ­Every 19 seconds, on the average, an American 65 older dies from a fall. Strong muscles help you maintain balance and avoid falls. Vitamin D shortfalls can weaken them.

  • Your skin – It’s your body’s largest organ, and vitamin D can help it ward off psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and other inflammations.

  • Your brain – A study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that vitamin D could play a big role in regulating mood, warding off depression, and lightening its symptoms.

  • Your waistline –British nutritional researchers found that a combination of vitamin D and calcium supplements had an appetite-suppressing effect that helped test subjects lose weight.

Of course, not all seniors have to worry about all these conditions. Like all people of all ages, they’re each all individuals, with their own personal needs, wants, and outlooks. That’s why our coordinated senior care management plans start not with a standardized menu of services, but with our thorough three-part needs assessment. In it, we ask questions of the older parents, of their caregiving children, of the rest of the family. About everything from physical, psychosocial and mental status to mobility issues and nutritional needs to legal wishes. Only then does what we learn become the basis of a holistic, coordinated care plan. To learn what a difference that can make, please contact us for a consultation.

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