Posted on Oct 17, 2019 in Senior Health
As you advance in years, it can be hard to get all the benefits of vitamins and minerals you need on board and this is where health supplements can be beneficial.
In an ideal world, you’d get all the nutrients you need from food but this is not always possible. Also, as you get older you’ll need more of certain vitamins and minerals. Certain supplements will strengthen your bones while some will ease joint pain, so it is important to have a wide varietal.
Why are vitamins so important, then?
Vitamins are components your body needs in order to be healthy and function soundly. These substances can be found in food but also come in the form of health supplements. What your food intake doesn’t provide, the supplements will.
They come in 2 types:
There are 13 essential vitamins and 4 of them (vitamins A, D, E and K) are fat-soluble. The remainder (the B-Complex and C vitamins) are all water-soluble.
Vitamins are vital for normal cell growth, function and development.
A vitamin deficiency can be downright dangerous for your health, doubly so as you hit your golden years. Here are vitamins you should pay close attention to as you age:
This vitamin helps with cell growth and the formation of strong bones and teeth. Vitamin A is also important for your eyesight and to keep your skin healthy.
Vitamin A is composed of 2 compounds:
If you don’t think you’re consuming enough vitamin A, talk with your doctor about a supplement.
Vitamin B12 is the only water-soluble vitamin. It’s stored in the liver for lengthy spells until it’s needed by the body.
It plays a vital role in red blood cell production, cell metabolism and DNA synthesis. Anemia can also occur with too little cobalamin in the body.
B12 is important for creating red blood cells and DNA and also for maintaining healthy nerve function.
Since it’s harder to absorb vitamin B12 from food as you age, you might not be getting enough even if you’re eating all the right foods.
Voice any concerns you might have with your doctor and mention vitamin B12 supplements.
While taking vitamin C supplements to ward off coughs and colds is popular, is it worthwhile?
In general, not really. If you eat enough fruit and vegetables, that should provide you with all the vitamin C you need naturally.
Shoot for the recommended 5 daily portions of fruit and vegetables. Eat plenty of citrus fruit. Mangoes and strawberries are also great sources of vitamin C, the powerful antioxidant.
Sunlight is an abundant source of vitamin D but perhaps you’re not getting out and about as much as you’d like now that you’re older.
Lacking in vitamin D can lead to Ricketts, a bone disease where you’ll suffer from weakened and soft bones.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb other nutrients more efficiently, notably calcium. This helps to prevent osteoporosis and other bone issues.
Some preliminary research is also showing that vitamin D could help to ease some chronic diseases like MS, rheumatoid arthritis, type-1 diabetes, and autoimmune diseases.
Your skin becomes less efficient at producing the vitamins you need from sunlight so supplements can be useful for bridging this gap as well.
What else can be beneficial as you get older, then?
Now you’ve seen the importance of some key vitamins as you age, how about other minerals and nutrients?
Calcium plays a crucial role as you age since it plays a pivotal role in building and strengthening bones.
This mineral also regulates muscle contractions and maintains blood clotting.
If you’re frail and housebound, you’re at heightened risk of falls and fractures.
While calcium supplements can be effective, you should always speak with your doctor before starting a course of tablets. If you stumble in on your own, you might take too much which can lead to stomach pain and diarrhea.
As long as you’re eating 2 to 4 portions of dairy on a daily basis, you should be able to take enough calcium on board without supplements.
Good sources include:
As you get older, your body struggles to absorb magnesium as efficiently as it used to. Some medications interfere with this and make it even worse.
You can find magnesium in leafy green vegetables, brown rice, nuts, meat, fish and dairy.
The average male needs 300mg of magnesium daily. For women, 270mg is sufficient. The majority of people should find this easy enough to maintain without the implementation of supplements.
Nevertheless, if you’re concerned you’re failing to consume enough magnesium-rich foods, it’s worth at least considering supplementation. As always, speak with your doctor for advice.
These fatty acids occur naturally in food and help mitigate many symptoms associated with aging.
Omega-3 fats can be useful if you’re suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and they can also slow the way AMD (age-related macular degeneration) progresses.
As long as you can eat a couple portions of fish each week – salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel in particular – you’ll hit your recommended amount with no issues.
If you’re not managing to eat this much oily fish and you need a helping hand, investigate supplementation with your doctor.
An amino sugar, glucosamine is found in your joints.
If you choose to take a supplement, you might find that the connective tissues and joints ease up if they’ve been giving you problems.
Don’t expect a magic bullet here, the effect will be subtle and you should get clearance from your doctor first.
To keep your bones as strong as possible, you need sufficient potassium.
Potassium helps with cell function and can also reduce high blood pressure and the chance of developing kidney stones.
The bad news is that many elderly Americans fail to get the 4700 mg of potassium they need each day.
The finest natural source of potassium is fruit and vegetables with bananas, potatoes, plums and prunes proving as strong sources.
Taking too much potassium, though, can be dangerous, so make an appointment with your healthcare provider before embarking on a course of potassium.
Getting adequate fiber is essential to keep food moving through your digestive tract seamlessly.
Whole beans, grains, fruit and vegetables all come packed with fiber and protecting you against heart disease is just one of the benefits of a fiber-rich diet.
Unfortunately, the average elderly American is only getting around half the fiber they need.
Supplementation can fill the void left in a diet without enough fresh fruit and vegetables so take action if necessary.
The mineral iron performs several key roles including making the red blood cells that carry blood around your body. Most people manage to get all the iron they need from a regular diet.
If you’re getting older, you shouldn’t routinely supplement using iron unless you’re sure that you’re iron-deficient. Since iron deficiency in individuals over 50’s is often an indicator of underlying health issues, speak with your doctor about any concerns here before reaching for the supplements.
Vitamins and minerals are even more important than ever as you get older and if you’re not getting enough through your diet, health supplements can pick up the slack.
What if you’re getting to that stage where you’re finding it hard to take care of your dietary needs properly? Get in touch with us here at Landmark Senior Living and we’ll happily give you a tour of our assisted living facility in Beverly. You’ll get all the help you need from while still maintaining your independence. What more could you ask for?