One of the best ways to maintain overall health and wellness is to get enough vitamins and nutrients — especially as we age. The right vitamins and nutrients can boost immunity, strengthen bones, and even encourage hair, nails, and skin to be healthier. In short, vitamins are good for us inside and out.
One of the most important vitamins is vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin typically associated with sunshine exposure. It’s a versatile vitamin that improves women’s health by boosting the body’s immune system, helping with calcium absorption, and even supporting protection against cancer. Unfortunately, women (especially women over the age of 65) are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency than their male counterparts. So just how much vitamin D do you need each day? The answer may surprise you. The good news is that there are easy nutrition hacks for meeting your daily requirement. Read on for details on vitamin D.
How much vitamin D do women over 50 need?
You might wonder, “How much vitamin D is really enough?” Unlike many other vitamins, the sunshine vitamin is rarely found in food, which makes having a vitamin D deficiency without realizing it very common; And because so much of our vitamin D intake comes from the sun, it’s hard to say precisely how much vitamin D a person needs each day.
Sun exposure and how much vitamin D is absorbed from that exposure varies among people. It’s much easier to meet daily vitamin D goals in sunny regions than it is in cold or dark regions. (No surprises there!) Individually, people with dark skin or those who wear high-SPF sunscreen may have a harder time absorbing vitamin D from sunlight exposure. It doesn’t help that the recommendations for vitamin D intake regularly change. That said, the current recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D for adults over the age of 19 is at least 600 IU (international units) and at least 800 IU (1 mcg) for adults over the age of 70. The upper limit of vitamin D intake is recommended to be between 1,500 and 2,000 IU and 2,000 to 4,000 IU, depending on the research you follow.
How can I hit my daily vitamin D goals?
The truth is that it can be hard to meet daily vitamin D intake needs, and this can be especially true for women. While there is some disagreement on exactly how much vitamin D we need each day, the ubiquity of vitamin D supplements makes it easier to meet vitamin D intake and RDA. Here are steps you can take to meet your daily vitamin D needs.
Adjust your diet.
Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D is relatively rare in foods. In fact, research indicates that women between the ages of 51 to 70 receive just 140 IU of vitamin D each day from food. That said, it is possible to create a more vitamin D-rich diet.
The highest quantities of vitamin D are found in fatty fish and fish oils. Cod liver oil, salmon, swordfish, sardines, and tuna fish are good sources of vitamin D, with smaller amounts of vitamin D in egg yolks, fortified orange juice, plant milks, dairy products, beef liver, and fortified cereals. While increasing your intake of vitamin D-rich foods probably won’t get you all the way to the RDA, it can certainly help.
Spend time in the sun.
There are many health benefits to getting outdoors and enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. It supports your immune system, increases serotonin production, and can even improve your sleep. Spending time outdoors is one of the best ways to ensure you get enough vitamin D. (Of course, you should always wear sunscreen.)
The question of how much time you need to spend in the sun each day to meet your daily doses of vitamin D remains a matter of debate. Most experts agree, however, that at least 10 to 30 minutes outdoors during the sunniest part of the day (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) a few times a week will increase your blood levels of vitamin D. If you have darker skin, if you wear protective layers and high SPF sunscreen, or if you go outdoors earlier in the day — especially during the time of the year when the sun rises later — you may need to increase these times.
One ancillary benefit of increasing sun exposure to increase vitamin D intake is that it can double as exercise and activity. As we age, staying active is extremely important for minimizing the risk of heart disease, lowing our blood pressure, and maintaining weight loss. When you spend a few minutes outside for your daily vitamin D intake, consider walking, stretching, doing yoga, or even dancing. You’ll enjoy all the benefits of fresh air, sunshine, and activity simultaneously.
Learn to recognize signs of vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency is quite common and can cause many side effects and health problems. We may not even realize we’re vitamin D deficient, and thus not take the necessary actions to increase our vitamin D intake. To avoid this, learn to recognize the signs of deficiency. Watch for symptoms like bone pain and achiness, hair loss, muscle weakness, and loss of appetite.
Vitamin D also helps boost your immune system, so if you notice that you’re getting sick more easily or more often, it may be due to a vitamin D deficiency. Paying attention to indications that your calcium absorption is low or that your immune system isn’t properly supported is vital to your overall health. Click through for more on the health benefits of vitamin D and learn how vitamin D and fatigue are linked.
If you’re not getting enough vitamins and nutrients from your diet, dietary supplements are a great way to boost levels and prevent deficiency. Vitamin D supplements are prolific and commonly consumed, especially among those living in areas with limited sunlight. Supplement options include vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 or plant and animal-sourced vitamin D.
Most of the time, vitamin D supplements come in the form of pills. Try to adjust your supplement intake in accordance with your current intake of vitamin D from food and sunshine. Coordinate with your healthcare provider as well, as your needs will vary based on age, gender, and medical history. Vitamin D is generally associated with lower rates of osteoporosis in older adults. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may also need to increase their vitamin D intake in order to support the added bone health and strength required to carry and then care for a baby.
If you have difficulty swallowing pills, there are other forms of vitamin D supplements to choose from. Vitamin D supplements are available as gummies, liquids, and chewables, as well as multivitamins. You even have your choice of vegan vitamin D supplements. Find a vitamin D supplement with a dose that fits your overall health needs, and begin enjoying the many benefits today.
The Last Word on Vitamin D
When our levels of vitamin D are low, it can greatly affect our overall wellness and may even make us more susceptible to bone damage and illness. This is especially true in women and older adults, who are more commonly vitamin D deficient. Since vitamin D isn’t available in higher doses from most food sources, it’s relatively easy to fall below the recommended daily allowance.
That’s why it’s important to learn how to recognize the signs of low vitamin D levels and add more vitamin D to your activity and nutrition regimen. That means getting out in the sunshine, trying to adjust your diet to include more vitamin D-rich foods, and adding high-dose vitamin supplements to your routine. These steps can go a long way to improving your calcium absorption, boosting your energy, and even increasing your overall health and wellness.