Calcium and vitamin d in seniors

If you notice lately you are finding more doctors placing the elderly on vitamin d supplements and calcium supplements . Why is vitamin d and calcium so important to us?

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Special considerations for calcium and vitamin d in the elderly.

Older persons are at increased risk for calcium and vitamin D insufficiency. There are alterations in the body functions that can contribute to calcium loss from bone, and therefore leads to osteoporosis.

  • The elderly have a decrease in dietary calcium intake, usually as a result of decreased overall dietary intake.
  • A decrease in the intestinal absorption of calcium.
  • A decrease in the capacity of the intestinal cells to adapt to a low calcium intake, and increase their absorption capacity.
  • Less frequent exposure to sunlight hence poorer vitamin d status.
  • A decrease in the capacity of the skin to synthesize vitamin d
  • A decrease in the efficiency with which the kidneys can retain calcium, leading to increase calcium loss in the urine.
  • A decrease in the capacity of the kidneys to convert vitamin d into the most active form, 1 25 dihydroxyvitamin D.

Calcium and vitamin d supplements

As we age our ability to absorb calcium through food decreases. Particularly for older adults with decreased appetite, low activity levels, or medical conditions, supplements may be required upon a doctor's recommendation. Persons at risk of vitamin D deficiency should consult their physicians about taking supplements. People at risk may include pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, the elderly (see list above), and also people with certain medical conditions, for example liver or kidney problems that affect vitamin D metabolism. In patients diagnosed with osteoporosis and receiving a drug treatment, calcium and vitamin D supplements are also usually prescribed, to ensure adequate intakes and also maximum effectiveness of the drug therapy. The types of supplements available vary by country, so consult with your physician for the one best suited to your individual needs.

Other foods and nutrients

There are other foods, and nutrients besides calcium and vitamin d, that contribute to bone health, including proteins, fruits and vegetables, and other vitamins and minerals.

Protein is essential for good bone mass gain during childhood and during the adolescent phase. Protein insufficiency is common among the elderly and is more severe in hip fracture patients than in the general aging population. If you are not getting enough protein it robs the muscles of mass and strength, therefore increasing the risk of falls and fractures. This can contribute to the poor recovery in patients who have had fractures. Lean red meat, poultry and fish, as well as eggs and dairy foods are excellent sources of animal protein. Dairy foods offer the extra bonus of being a rich source of calcium, and oily fish, of vitamin D. Good vegetable sources of protein include legumes (e.g. lentils, kidney beans), soya products (e.g. tofu), grains, nuts and seeds.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables contain a whole array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and alkaline salts, some or all of which can have a beneficial effect on bone. Studies have shown that higher fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with beneficial effects on bone density in elderly men and women, although the exact components which may give this benefit are still to be clarified.

Check out a calcium calculator to see if you are getting enough calcium.

Calcium rich foods are important in your daily diet. See some of the examples of these foods. These calcium rich foods help with bone-health per the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

The Science Daily also reports that insufficient levels of vitamin d puts the elderly at increased risk of dying from heart disease.

Always remember before starting any kind of vitamin supplements check with your doctor first. There are tests that can be performed by your primary care physician that can test your vitamin d level and bone density tests that can test for your bone mass index.

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Posted in Senior Health Post Date 06/21/2018


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