Friday, June 7, 2019

Vitamin D Is Vital To Your Health

Your loved one with Alzheimer's disease needs to hear calm and soothing voices and to exercise every day. It may be a struggle to get her up and moving, but once you have established a routine, it may be the ticket to health and freedom for both of you.

Some individuals with this disease are not used to exercise. They have assumed a stationary life maybe because of surgeries for hip or knee replacements and the following pain that has made motion a horror. Also many folks of older generations have not been caught up in the exercise blitz and have decided it is a "hobby" to eschew. However, research confirms that staying active is a key to good mental as well as physical health. I am not encouraging you to begin long, strenuous workouts where beads of sweat sprout, but rather strolls around the block, a trip to the park, a promenade around town or through the mall. A little movement does much to improve well-being.

If the movement is too much at first, try a walker. Walkers offer support and off load weight on a sore hip or knee. They also have built-in seats so if your loved one is tired, there is a resting spot at hand. If all else fails, try a wheelchair. The exercise for your loved one is gone, but the trip out-of-doors is present. It will be good for your loved one to have sunshine on his face and shoulder, and it will be good for the caregiver to enjoy the warmth as well.

Check with your local recreation department or YMCA/YWCA. Often there are aqua-size programs at the pool where warm water relaxes, allowing a restful glow inside and out as you move through the water. Life vests or safety belts add security. Trained instructors ensure the safety of your loved one and have the knowledge and expertise to make the experience enjoyable and calming.

When the "outside-of-the-home trip" becomes too much of a trial, clear indoor pathways for easy movement around the interior. If stair steps are a problem, block them off. Pick up loose scatter rugs to avoid tripping. Keep lights on in hallways so that walking is not frightening and remove bookshelves, figurines, and chairs that might present hazards. If possible, open the back door to a fenced yard so that your loved one can exit and enter freely, enjoying flowering plants and the warm sun. You can join in or when safety precautions have been carefully established, you can also catch a minute or two of caregiver reprieve.

Soft music is enjoyed by many people with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias. In my experience even the hard-of-hearing like a familiar tune, especially those melodies from a time of their youth. While television is often confusing and provides too much jumping action, a CD player or iPod can have the perfect selection of favorite tunes. You may find a spring in your loved one's step (and quite likely in yours too) as memories flood in and dance steps churn out. In addition to its traditional job of improving bone health through calcium absorption, according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman (the G-BOMBS doctor), vitamin D plays important roles in the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cognitive decline.

Dr. Fuhrman says that vitamin D receptors are present in the human brain and vitamin D is involved in the regulation of such cognitive processes as memory formation and neurotransmission. This is supported by research which indicates that cognitive decline is higher among adults who are deficient in vitamin D when compared to those with sufficient levels of vitamin D.

It has been found that most type 2 diabetics are either deficient or insufficient in vitamin D. The research suggests that vitamin D sufficiency contributes to better sugar control in diabetics.

There is evidence in the research that sufficient vitamin D levels may protect against the development of cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that many heart attack victims were either deficient or insufficient in vitamin D. Heart attack patients who increase their vitamin D to sufficient levels (i.e., above 30 ng/ml) have significantly reduced incidence of heart attack, heart failure and coronary artery disease.

It is apparent, then, that a sufficient level of vitamin D is necessary for the proper functioning of many of our body's tissues. The question is, how much vitamin D do we need? The recommended daily amount is between 200 - 400 IU per day. However, there is general consensus among the scientific community that 2,000 IU or more per day may be necessary for most people in order to maintain good health.

Since very few foods contain vitamin D, and it may be risky (because of the risk of skin cancer from ultraviolet light exposure) to depend on sunlight to maintain vitamin D levels, taking vitamin D supplements of at least 2,000 IU daily is recommended in order to optimize medical health.

One final sidenote regarding vitamin D. It's important to note that your diet and nutritional program come into play here. If you eat fish, you will get between 1,000 -3,000 IU of vitamin D per serving. Also, if you take a vitamin supplement of fish oil capsules, you will get between 300 - 350 IU of additional vitamin D with each 1,000 mg fish oil capsule. These factors should be considered when you establish your overall daily vitamin D requirements.

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