5 Vitamins for Senior Health

Many seniors experience changes in health as they age. Some seniors may notice a decrease in appetite, others may have difficulty regulating body temperature and staying warm and still others simply find that moving around isn’t as easy as it used to be.

Getting the right vitamins and minerals can be especially difficult for seniors. While many doctors encourage seniors to eat as healthfully as possible to get the nutrients they need, for some seniors, this may be a difficult task. Seniors who live alone may have difficulty keeping nutritious food fresh for long periods in between shopping trips, and other seniors who receive prepared meals or meal assistance may not have nutritious choices.

In cases where a consistent, healthful diet isn’t possible, or if you or your loved one is just concerned about overall health, here are five vitamins and minerals that many doctors say can be beneficial for seniors. Of course, before starting any new vitamin regimen, speak to your doctor or pharmacist first.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which is imperative for seniors. While sun exposure supplies the body’s main supply of Vitamin D, getting out in the sun enough may not be possible for some people who are elderly.

Fatty fish, fortified milk and some juices can help, but your doctor may recommend adding 600-800 IU (international units) of Vitamin D per day. Check with your doctor to see what they recommend; age (51-70 vs. 71 and older) may play a factor in how much or how little you need.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is great for the immune system and can aid in the formation of red blood cells. Good sources of B6 are beans, nuts, eggs and whole grains, but your doctor may recommend a supplement that provides 1.7 mg of Vitamin B6 per day for men, or 1.5 mg per day for women.

Vitamin B12

B12 is a vitamin that helps keep nerves and red blood cells healthy. Some studies show that as many as one third of people over the age of 50 do not get enough B12 from diet alone (fish, shellfish, meat and dairy products are good sources). A lack of B12 may cause neurological and balance problems.

Your doctor may recommend an additional 2.4 mcg per day to boost your overall health.

Folate

Folate is abundant in dark green, leafy veggies like kale, spinach or beans. Unfortunately, for many seniors, diet alone makes it difficult to get enough folic acid. Your doctor may recommend up to 400 mcg of folic acid per day.

Folic acid is especially good for women, especially when combined with Vitamins B6 and B12. This combination of supplements may reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

Calcium

Most people know that calcium is great for forming and maintaining healthy teeth and bones, but it is also needed for a normal heartbeat and blood clotting.

Dairy, leafy greens and some orange juices (look for “calcium fortified” on the carton) may help to get seniors enough calcium, but most doctors will recommend that men take 1000 mg up to age 70 (then 1200 mg from 71 on), and that women take 1200 mg per day starting at age 51.

Check with your doctor to see if you can benefit from one or all of these vitamins and minerals. And of course, eat as healthfully as possible to make sure you get the vitamins and minerals you need on a daily basis.

At Generations Healthcare, with the oversite of a registered dietitian, we provide home-cooked meals made from scratch for our residents. Our chefs always keep the special dietary needs of seniors in mind when they plan each day’s menu. Learn more about Generations.

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