I came across an interesting analysis in this week’s British Medical Journal about the elderly and their lack of vitamin D. The author of the piece recommends giving elderly patients high doses of vitamin D supplements to safeguard them from fractures and falls. Moreover, he believes the elderly, especially those who live nursing homes or are homebound, suffer more acutely from vitamin D deficiency than has been previously recognized.
The root of the problem, according to the article: Because of their skin’s reduced capacity to synthesize the provitamin calcidiol, elderly patients may have poor muscle strength and weakness.
The author cites a number of studies that support vitamin D supplementation, including quite a few that demonstrate how it reduces the amount of falls. He also recognizes two major roadblocks standing in the way of seniors (particularly the housebound) receiving optimal amounts of vitamin D:
- A lack of exposure to sunshine
- Little or no exercise
However, the author doesn’t mention one very reasonable alternative that will allow seniors to get all the vitamin D they need and is far better for them than taking a supplement: A high quality fish or cod liver oil. In fact, taking a high-quality fish or cod liver oil is more important than any supplement because it is an essential food.