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Vitamin D in elderly

The elderly population has often bone problems. Osteoporosis, fractures, demineralization and fragility are just some of the bone diseases with which you have to fight after a certain age.

The aging process of the body plays its part, but it is wrong to award it the emergence of these diseases. Many recent scientific data prove, for example, that the elderly has very frequent vitamin D deficiency and so bone problems. Vitamin D deficiency is easily solved thanks to a diet of oral type. This would lead to decrease the incidence of so common bone disease in the elderly.


Vitamin D Deficit

Human being does not take the right amount of vitamin D for the whole course of life, so this deficiency is not only typical of the elderly. The main cause is due to nutrition that, even if correct, does not provide a sufficient amount of vitamin D.

In young people, who spend a lot of time outdoors, vitamin D deficiency is not seen much because its active form, vitamin D3, can be synthesized by precursory through ultraviolet radiation of the sun’s rays.

The elderly, instead, aren’t often exposed to direct sunlight with the consequent decrease in production of vitamin D. In winter, in fact, the elderly are getting sick because of the cold while in the summer hot weather can cause problems to their heart and lungs. This is the reason why there is not a correct exposure to the sun.

In the long term, the low exposure to sunlight carries symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, which affect the bone causing the above problems.


The function of Vitamin D

Once absorbed through the intestines, or activated by sunlight, vitamin D2 undergoes two transformations: the first in the liver and the second in the kidney.

At this stage, vitamin D does not act on the bones but on the kidneys that, among their different functions, also have to reabsorb excess of calcium, which is eliminated with urine, by adding other molecules such as phosphorus.

For its part, calcium is ingested with food. In the absence of vitamin D, calcium is mostly lost in urine. The human body has a constant need for calcium for the activation of different processes, including the muscular contraction of vital muscles such as the diaphragm or the heart. As the correct amount of calcium is not present in the blood, it is removed from the bones, causing demineralization.

Often, the lack of calcium is not highlighted by blood tests because the blood value appears in the standard. In fact, the body compensates for the lack of calcium taking it from bones keeping this way, blood values within the limits considered normal. Bones, however, slowly empty.

Consequently, demineralized bones lose their grip until the appearance of osteoporosis, which predisposes the emergence of bone fractures. The examination with which osteoporosis is highlighted is the BMD, Bone Mineral Density. Of course the diagnosis is also possible through an x-ray, but it is a test that involves greater risk to health than the BMD.

Unfortunately the majority of the population does not regularly perform the BMD. An early identification of the problem properly treated could assist in the prevention of osteoporosis itself. In the elderly, the disease is often diagnosed when it is already evident and consequently too late.


How is vitamin D deficiency treated?

Vitamin D deficiency can be remedied by taking a specific supplement, like D3K1, that contains vitamin D3, i.e. its active form and vitamin K1, which facilitates the absorption of calcium in the intestine

The integration of vitamin D3 is useful to recover calcium that would otherwise be eliminated through the kidneys and making the organism uses the mineral content in the blood instead of the one present in the bones. To maximize the effect of vitamin supplementation it is also advisable to make an adaptation of the diet, with the addition of a source of calcium that provides the “raw material” for maintaining healthy bones.

When we talk about vitamin D, we need to extend the subject also to muscles, not just the bones. Preliminary studies that have been published showed how the muscular problems of the elderly, also caused by hypocalcaemia, and the degeneration of the cells of the nervous system, which lead to senile dementia, are directly connected to the lack of vitamin D.

To prevent all these problems, it is important to start taking a vitamin D supplement before the onset of symptoms, which takes place long after the onset of vitamin deficiency in the body.

Author Info

Internazionale Biolife S.r.l.