Senior Spotlight: Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

As we age, the amount of Vitamin D we need to support muscle movement, strong bones and a healthy nervous and immune system increases. The risk of osteoporosis, where bones become fragile and may fracture if one falls, is one consequence of not getting enough calcium and vitamin D over the long term. The amount of vitamin D you need each day depends on your age. Supplements of both vitamin D3 (at 700–800 IU/day) and calcium (500–1,200 mg/day) have been shown to reduce the risk of bone loss and fractures in elderly people aged 62–85 years.


Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Beef liver, mushrooms, egg yolks, and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel provide small amounts. Fortified foods, including many breakfast cereals and some brands of orange juice, provide most of the vitamin D in American diets.  Almost all of the milk in the United States is fortified with vitamin D, but foods like cheese and ice cream, are usually not.

Sun exposure causes the body to create vitamin D, however this isn’t true in older adults because their kidneys have a harder time converting it. It is also recommended to limit exposure to sunlight to lower the risk for skin cancer.

A simple blood test can be performed to determine your vitamin D levels and your doctor can suggest the best supplement dose for you. Some Americans are vitamin D deficient and almost no one has levels that are too high. Men and women should talk with their health care providers about their needs for vitamin D, and calcium.

Like most dietary supplements, vitamin D may interact or interfere with other medicines or supplements. Tell your doctor, pharmacist, and other health care providers about any dietary supplements and medicines you are taking.

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All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.