Vitamin D for Seniors and Medicare EligiblesDecember 18, 2018
Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is essential. It helps absorb calcium, which is necessary for bone health and strength. Over an extended period of time, vitamin D deficiency can result in obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression, Osteoporosis, and more. Vitamin D for seniors and Medicare eligibles becomes increasingly important with age, so it is important to understand the recommended dosage and the symptoms of deficiency.
Why is Vitamin D Important in the Elderly?
If you are deficient in vitamin D, your body may start to lose bone tissue. This can lead to bone pain, muscle weakness, and even skeletal deformity. Seniors and Medicare eligibles who get the recommended dose of vitamin D every day are more likely to lower their risk of cardiovascular issues, cancers, bone disorders, and diabetes. Plus, it can lower the chance of early nursing home admission, encourage physical independence, and act as a form of fall prevention.
How Much Vitamin D Does a Senior Need?
It can be extremely difficult to get enough vitamin D through diet alone. Sunshine and vitamin D supplements are beneficial alternatives. The recommended dose of vitamin D for seniors age 70+ is, at a minimum, 800 IU* per day. For those less than 70 years old, the adequate intake is, at a minimum, 600 IU per day. Blood tests are a great way to see if you are getting the right amount of vitamin D. However, it’s important to understand that you can have too much vitamin D. An excess can cause vomiting, weakness, and excess urination. Your daily vitamin D intake should never exceed 4,000 IU per day.
*IU stands for international units and is used to measure fat-soluble vitamins. This includes vitamins A, D, and E. You will notice that these vitamins will use “IU” on their labels instead of MG.
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Typical D3 Dosage for Seniors and Medicare Beneficiaries
There are two main forms of vitamin D for seniors and Medicare eligibles – vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). D2 can be found in plant foods like mushrooms and D3 can be found in sunlight and animal foods like salmon or eggs. D2 does not occur naturally in your body, but D3 is produced in the skin when exposed to sunlight. Experts believe that D3 is at least three times more potent than D2 and is more stable, safe, and beneficial to the body.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency in Elderly People
Vitamin D Deficiency in elderly people is common due to smaller food intake, less exposure to sunlight, and reduced skin thickness. It’s important to listen to your body so you can take the proper steps to rectify the issue. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency in elderly people include:
In general, adults often feel their muscles get heavier with age. This can actually be linked to a Vitamin D Deficiency. This means that if you have difficulty standing up or climbing the stairs, you may not be getting enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D makes sure your immune system is strong and helps fight off illness-causing viruses and bacteria. If you get sick easily and often, especially with colds or the flu, low vitamin D could be a contributing factor. Plus, researchers have found links between vitamin D deficiency and respiratory infections. Studies have shown that increasing your vitamin D intake can decrease your risk of infection.
Researchers claim that vitamin D and a hormone called leptin work together to regulate your weight. Leptin works by signaling your brain that you are full and to stop eating. If you are deficient in vitamin D, the leptin signaling process may not function properly. Overeating and weight gain can be an indicator that you need more vitamin D.
There are many reasons you may be feeling tired, but a vitamin D deficiency is often overlooked. There have been several observational studies that show correlations between low vitamin D levels and fatigue. When the vitamin D dosage was increased, the tiredness and fatigue subsided.
Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, a deficiency can trigger digestive problems like inflammatory bowel disease. Digestion problems can be extremely uncomfortable and negatively impact the fat absorption process.
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Medicare Advantage and Part D Plans
If you think you may have a vitamin D deficiency, visit your doctor before taking corrective action. A blood test is the most accurate way to measure vitamin D in your body. Unfortunately, in most cases, Original Medicare only covers blood tests for at-risk individuals.
Medicare Advantage plans can provide additional coverage for bloodwork. In some cases, MA plans with prescription drug coverage will even include some coverage for over-the-counter medications like vitamin D supplements! Talk to a licensed agent about finding out whether a plan in your area offers these benefits. A great first step is to download our Part D checklist that can help you figure out what prescription coverage you need out of your health care plan.
Our licensed agents can help you understand all of your plan options and enroll you in a plan that fits your needs and budget. If you’re interested in arranging a no-cost, no-obligation appointment, fill out this form or call us at 833-438-3676.