Vitamin D

Adequate Vitamin D is essential for health of bones and muscle in all age groups .Older people who are institutionalized or housebound are at particularly high risk of vitamin D deficiency. For example, up to 80% of women and 70% of men living in hostels or nursing homes in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia had (frankly) deficient blood levels of vitamin D’.

Severe vitamin D deficiency may cause muscle pain and weakness that may mean exercise will be difficult and possibly painful. Getting up from a chair could be a problem and every day activities that encourage independence, such as brushing hair, can become too hard.

‘Vitamin D deficiency is an independent predictor of falls in older women in residential care in Australia. It is also linked with falls and fragility fractures in both women and older men.

Only a few foods contain significant amounts of vitamin D. Fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardines contain vitamin D. Some margarines and milk products have been fortified with small
amounts of vitamin D. Meat, butter and eggs contain a little. Considering that residents may have a poor appetite, the amount of vitamin D rom food is further reduced.

The major source of vitamin D is via exposure to sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Most Australians obtain less than 10% of their daily vitamin D requirements from diet.

To get enough sunlight to produce vitamin D, hands, face and arms (or equivalent area of skin) need to be regularly exposed. It should be noted that glass blocks the UV rays required for vitamin D production. It should also be noted that sun screen blocks out those UV rays.