Who doesn’t love a nice sunny day? It’s pleasantly warm and bright and makes you feel good inside and out. Well, it turns out a lot of that feeling comes from (you guessed it) vitamin D! Getting enough vitamin D is important for healthy bodies and minds, especially as you get older. So now that we’re adjusting to daylight saving time and there are even more hours in the day to get out and enjoy the sunshine, you should! So, what are you waiting for? Scratch that — finish reading this first, then get out there!
Did you know that vitamin D is the only vitamin your body makes itself? Kudos to our bodies on that one! Its main function is to help regulate calcium and phosphorus to keep your teeth and bones strong. Getting enough of it can also help boost your immune system to help fight off viruses and bacteria, support muscles like your heart to prevent heart disease, and support your nervous system, which carries messages from your brain to your body. Not only that, it also helps you both mentally and emotionally.
While we are proud that our bodies produce a certain amount of vitamin D, we still need to get more for our most vibrant health. Thankfully, you can get it from certain foods like fatty (the good fat) fish, fortified milk and cereals, mushrooms, egg yolks, cheese, and more — but the easiest (and most fun!) way is through direct sunlight. Put on your sunglasses and get ready to soak it up as vitamin D is absorbed by the skin. Unfortunately, as we age, we don’t absorb vitamin D as well, and our bodies naturally create less of it. Due to this, the National Institutes of Health recommends that men and women over 70 years old need 800 IU per day (this is equal to 20 mcg per day) from the sun, supplements, and/or food.
When working on upping your vitamin D game, it’s important to find creative ways to enjoy the sun and stay healthy. There are lots of ways for independent living, assisted living, and memory care residents in particular to do just that. At Thrive communities, making sure residents get their vitamin D is always top of mind — so much so that they have a program dedicated to it that is poignantly called Administer Vitamin D. It’s all about creating healthy lifestyles by intentionally providing daily outdoor integration every single day. This includes activities like gardening, yoga, and walking clubs and trails, which offer plenty of chances to get outside and be active. They also host tons of outdoor events like picnics, concerts, movies, birdwatching, and more that aren’t simply good for you — they’re good for your soul! And beyond all these activities, Thrive has other opportunities to embark on adventures with weekly field trips to parks and local events in their area.
Research shows that vitamin D can not only strengthen bones and muscles, but it can also reduce the risk of advanced forms of cancer, help prevent diabetes, and even aid in weight loss,1 but getting outdoors and getting moving provides you with more than just vitamin D. Fresh air, a newfound sense of focus, boosted positivity, and increased creativity are all additional benefits that come with being in the sun on a regular basis. It’s crucial that you use every day to refill your vitamin D cup because your levels get depleted on a daily basis! Keep in mind, if you’re going to be outdoors frequently, you’ll want to stay safe. So don’t forget to wear plenty of sunscreen and your coolest visor! And during the pandemic, you’ll want to stay masked up and socially distanced as well.
As you begin to get out more during the spring and summer, make sure you take advantage of all that the great weather has to offer. Of course, even during the winter months, you’ll need to get an appropriate amount of vitamin D. So, make sure to consult your doctor on what’s best for you to maintain healthy vitamin D levels year-round — that way, you’ll stay glowing even when it’s dark out!
As you can see, getting the vitamin D your body needs is a big deal! At Thrive Senior Living, making sure that every resident is healthy, happy, and safe is our top priority every single day — no matter the vitamin. Regardless of your age, ability, or even where you call home, get out there and have some fun in the sun — because you and your body deserve it.
1. Leah Groth June 25, and Leah Groth. “9 Vitamin D Benefits You Should Know-and How to Get More in Your Diet.” Health.com, Meredith Corporation, 25 June 2020, www.health.com/nutrition/vitamins-supplements/vitamin-d-benefits.