Sun Safe and Vitamin D Smart


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Being outdoors helps keep you active, and it can have an overall positive effect on your physical and mental health. But it can also be dangerous. This is especially true for seniors, so precautions are important.

That being said, exposure to Vitamin D you get from the sun can have positive effects on all of us. Scientists believe that this wonder vitamin can do everything from help fight depression to reduce the risk of heart attack and cancer. Of course, it’s long been known to improve strength, balance and bone health. All of this makes Vitamin D especially important for seniors, many of whom do not get nearly enough (the daily recommended allowance for those over 70 is 800 IUs).

And while sunlight is a great source of Vitamin D, it also comes with its own downsides, particularly the risk of skin cancer, which increases as you age. Seems like a Catch-22, right? That’s why Home Instead Senior Care of the Southeast Valley  has put together the following hints to help you successfully solve the Great Sun Conundrum.

• Health experts disagree on whether any exposure to sun is safe. Some say that people need from 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure to the skin on your face, arms, back or legs (without sunscreen) two times every week to get the Vitamin D they need from the sun.  Others, including many dermatologists, say that no amount of exposure is a good idea. Play it safe by always wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher when outdoors (even on gloomy days). Chances are, you will probably get enough incidental sun to cover your 5-30 minutes.

• Ensure your diet is rich in Vitamin D by consuming lots of oily fish (salmon, trout, orange roughy, sardines  and tuna all fit the bill), egg yolks, if cholesterol is not an issue, and Vitamin D-enriched dairy products and juices. Also, consider taking a Vitamin D supplement.

• When outside, always be sure you are getting plenty of water. Dehydration is a huge problem for seniors and can occur more quickly during the summer months.

• Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your head and neck and choose sunglasses that are labeled as blocking 99-100% of UV rays for extra protection around your eyes.

• Plan your senior’s outdoor time for early in the day before the extreme heat of the day.

For more information and senior safety advice, contact Home Instead Senior Care at 480-827-4343 or visit us on Facebook.

 

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