While the role of Vitamin D in bone health has been long-established in the medical community, its importance to healthy cell development and immune system functioning is now being strongly recognized as well. A simple online search can produce a host of articles that confirm these larger, overall benefits to the body.
But – is Vitamin D as important for optimal health as a person ages?
To find out, we asked Kavod’s own local nutrition expert, Doug McCaw. Doug is the Director of Dining Services and has a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) in addition to being a Registered Dietitian (RD). Along with his leadership role at Kavod, he also teaches nutrition classes at Front Range Community College.
Doug confirmed that vitamin D is one of the most essential vitamins to keep the kidney, liver and skin working their best… AND – that actually many older adults struggle to get enough compared to the general public. Mobility issues, lack of access to vitamin-rich food or other age-related barriers can put older people at risk of a vitamin D deficiency.
To reduce this risk, Doug recommends three primary ways that older adults can continue to get enough of this important nutrient (in order of effectiveness).
1. Go outside. UV rays from the sun on the skin helps the body make Vitamin D. Twenty minutes of exposure to sunshine a day is optimal, but even a few minutes is enough to make a difference. With the number of sunny days in Colorado, it’s very likely to get some sunshine almost all year! Doug suggests exposing the arms to sun but still protecting the face with sunscreen, which is the most likely place for sun damage.
2. Eat Vitamin-D rich foods. It’s especially important to get some Vitamin D through your diet in winter months when sun exposure is less accessible. Foods such as mushrooms (a good choice for vegans), legumes, fatty fish such as salmon or halibut or fortified items such as milk or cereal are all high in Vitamin D.
3. Use a dietary supplement. For individuals who are home bound or unable to get vitamin D through other avenues, D3 supplements are available, some of which even come in liquid form that can be added to other foods if swallowing is an issues. Additionally, sometimes Vitamin D is included with a combination of other nutrients as in many calcium supplements. Please consult your doctor before taking supplements especially if you are taking other medications or have any health conditions. It is possible that Vitamin D in large amounts can become toxic over time.
Kavod is fortunate to have a dietitian on staff like Doug who can give great advice like this in addition to his many duties ensuring Kavod’s meal plan for residents is high quality, balanced and nutritious. As part of this program, Kavod Assisted Living residents receive three meals a day while Senior Living residents enjoy dinner five days per week along with a Sunday brunch. Each of Kavod’s daily menus provides options for dietary preferences such as vegan, gluten-free, heart-healthy or kosher, among others. Doug and his staff can also accommodate highly specialized requirements that come with a doctor’s recommendations. There is rarely a nutritional challenge that Kavod can’t meet!
With all that said, we invite you to join us for a meal and check out Kavod. You can be confident your meals are overseen by a real expert while discovering all Kavod Senior Life has to offer you, a loved one or other older adult in our community.
To view our daily menus, visit https://www.kavodseniorlife.org/campus-activities/calendars/. For other questions, contact Kavod at 303.399.1146 or fill out an inquiry form at https://www.kavodseniorlife.org/get-in-touch/contact-kavod/