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Vitamins and minerals can play a large role maintaining a healthy aging body. They help support our vital system and bone functions. Outside of a few special vitamins, we can mostly get these micronutrients from the food that we eat. Vitamin D just to happens to be one of those special vitimans. There have been many new research studies surrounding this powerful vitamin and its direct correlation with a healthy body. After all, it was the vitamin that cured rickets during the Industrial Revolution and has now been linked to healthy heart and immune function.
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine” vitamin because it is mainly produced through the body’s response to the sun’s UV exposure. However, not everyone processes it the same, and not everyone has the same access to high amounts of sun exposure during certain months out of the year. Also, the direct links between cancer and UV sun exposure are not bolstering people to purposefully sunbathe these days. As a result, many people are aging with limited amounts of this bone-builder-cell-charger of a vitamin.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb minerals such as calcium while also promoting cell growth. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Vitamin D is thought to prevent bone breaks and keep bones strong after they begin to naturally lose density after the age of 30 (especially in women). Believe it or not, around half of the worlds population have a vitamin D deficiency. Populations farther from the equator have less sun exposure year around. As a result, these individuals tend to have lower vitamin D levels. This deficiency can be resolved through a vitamin D supplementation or by eating a diet rich in fatty fish and leafy greens.
Everyone can benefit from maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D. The absorption of vitamin D through our skin changes later on in life due to thinning and collagen loss of the skin. Also, we are seeing less work outside and more work under florescent office lights. Office life makes it more difficult for people to get the recommended daily dose. Some individuals, especially those over the age of 65, are prescribed a vitamin D supplement to help support absorption.
Now, I personally am not an advocate for supplements. I have a good reason too.
I used to take supplements, but I stopped after a pretty scary health event. I had been training hard last year, and was pretty busted up after my workouts. After talking to my coach (not a doctor), and doing some self-research online as to why I was so sore after working out, I decided it was because I wasn’t getting enough protein. So what did I do? I bought a protein powder supplement of course!
I took the powder about three times a week after my workouts. After about the third week, I noticed my hands and face kind of swelling, I was nauseous and confused. I also had become very tired and lethargic. I thought it was MS related and chalked it up as so. Luckily, I get a blood panel every month due the after care monitoring commitment I swore my life to after my MS treatment. My urine and kidney function came back crazy. It was a very scary instance where I did something without my doctors okay.
Each of my doctors literally asked, “who told you to do that?”
I was being scolded!
No one I said.
Needless to say, I had hurt my kidneys. After a bunch of tests, my doctors called it an Acute Kidney Injury (AKI). They weren’t directly sure if it was due to the supplement or the fact that my thyroid hormone was through the roof. Either or, my nephrologist (kidney doctor) advised me to never take over the counter supplements similar to the one I was taking because, “it all gets processed in your kidneys.” She said there’s no telling what is in the supplements due to poor FDA market regulation. She also added that she usually doesn’t see patients my age, and when she does, it is usually due to an AKI from supplements.
With every one of my doctors graces, I immediately stopped taking everything, except for vitamin D. Eventually my kidney functions went back to normal, and I vowed to never take anything other than what my doctors suggested!
You see, all of our vitamins can be ingested through a well rounded diet. These special micro vitamins can be ingested by eating green leafy vegetables, fortified foods, or fatty fish. Granted some of us have issues with absorption. However, vitamins should be taken with caution and under the advice of a medical doctor.
Seniors over the age of 65 can speak with their doctors about the importance of vitamin D in maintaining muscle mass and bone health. The Vitamin D Council recommends 600-800 international units (IU’s) a day for seniors over 65. A simple blood test can be preformed with the consultation of a general practitioner to see if they could benefit.
By the way, I always learn the hard way.