My blog this time is a bit more clinical and related to research in the area of the mobility and the elderly.  Even though at J.O. and A. we focus on food, as dietitians we are looking at how this food, along with the menus we plan, affects the overall health status of our residents. Mobility is a huge issue in long term care. Just consider how many walkers and wheelchairs you see when you go into any seniors’ facility.  Think also how many older people you know of who have broken their hip.

I have the privilege of working with a wonderful team that includes activities and programs staff.  Many of their programs include helping residents maintain and improve their mobility.  In one of the links I’m sharing with you today, the author states:  “The older people who report the highest life satisfaction, and who also seem to live longer, are those with intact and robust social networks. The ability to walk is fundamental to maintaining one’s social contacts and remaining independent. Mobility is critical to quality of life in addition to physical health.”

In my research I found two very interesting articles worth sharing. They present different and current thoughts on the topic of declined muscle strength in the elderly and make for interesting reading.  One looks at inflammation as a contributing factor and introduces a second intervention along with vitamin D supplementation.  According to the article, this is inflammation way below the levels observed with an acute infection. It is inflammation that is associated with aging, not disease. The second article looks at various aspects of vitamin D.

It is menu planning time again and with that in mind I’m looking for ways to ensure there is an adequate amount of vitamin D in our menus.  Recently I tried two different and really good fish dishes (good source of vitamin D) and will be adding them to our menu this time around. The real challenge is, will the residents like the menu  enough to eat and consume the vitamin D so carefully planned.  This is a tall order when you take into account the variety of cultures and food preferences that there may be in a single facility.  Adequate intake for persons >71  years is 800 IU.  Health Canada actually advises adults over the age of 50 to take a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU each day.

There are few foods in nature that contain vitamin D. Fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel and fish liver oils are among the best sources.  There are small amounts in beef liver, cheese and egg yolks but the fact is that most of the vitamin D from foods is from fortified products such as milk, juices, cereals, margarine and more are coming onto the market.  Dietitians of Canada has a really good (and easy to read) factsheet with information on vitamin D and food sources of vitamin D. Take a look and see if you meet the recommended amounts for your age group. See  http://www.dietitians.ca/Downloads/Factsheets/Food-Sources-of-Vitamin-D.aspx   Of course, food is not the only source of vitamin D.  It is also produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight but food becomes a more important source when we don’t get outside in the sun on a regular basis.  Taking a supplement is another way to ensure you get adequate vitamin D.  Note:  The Dietitians of Canada factsheet recommends staying under 4000 IU per day, including food and supplements.

If you are interested in research articles, take a look at the two links below.  For those who want more clinical information, check out the third excellent website as well.  I’m going back to my menu planning.

Link 1:  Researchers Seeking Ways to Help Older Adults Preserve Their Mobility,   April 5, 2016  Sourced from:   http://www.newswise.com/articles/researchers-seeking-ways-to-help-older-adults-preserve-their-mobility

Link 2:   from the J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Dec.   Vitamin D Deficiency and Muscle Strength: Are They Related?       Sourced from:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3513541/

Link 3:  Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals     https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/