Which Vitamins Are Best for Seniors?

Do vitamins make a difference in the health of seniors?

Minerals, vitamins, and supplements – oh my! 70% of seniors are taking them; but are they actually needed as we grow older? After all, a healthy, balanced diet offers older adults essential nutrients. But there are certain areas of deficiency that may call for the addition of a supplement. Make sure to seek the advice of the physician prior to making any changes, but with their recommendation or approval, consider the following:

Calcium

Older bones are prone to fractures and breaks when calcium intake is insufficient. This is especially true for post-menopausal women, with an astounding 50% of those over age 50 breaking a bone because of osteoporosis. However, men are also at an increased risk for significant complications from calcium deficiency. A hip fracture in men, for example, is much more likely to be fatal than it is for women.

The best natural sources for calcium are salmon, leafy greens, kale, broccoli, and dairy products, but the majority of women over age 50 and men over age 70 aren’t getting sufficient calcium from food alone. The NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements recommends 1,200 mg of calcium daily for women over age 51 and men over age 71, and 1,000 mg daily for men ages 51 – 70. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is calcium’s closest friend. They work most effectively when taken together to boost not just bone health, but the immune and nervous systems and perhaps the heart as well. Sunshine is the best source for vitamin D, but aging skin and the threat of skin cancer may cause roadblocks to getting adequate levels. 

Recommendations are 15 mcg/600 IU per day up to age 70, and 20 mcg/800 IU per day for anyone over age 71. If vitamin D supplements are advised by a physician, they should always be taken with food for optimal absorption.

Vitamin B12

Deficiencies of vitamin B12 are common in older adults, and even more so for individuals who take certain medications (particularly gastric acid inhibitors or metformin). Without enough vitamin B12, older adults are far more susceptible to developing anemia, neuropathy or nerve damage, balance problems, depression, poor memory, confusion, and dementia. 

The NIH recommends 2.4 mcg each day, which may be obtained through a diet high in fish and clams, poultry, meat, liver, milk, eggs, and fortified cereals. And unlike other minerals and vitamins, even high doses of vitamin B12 haven’t been found to cause harm, in accordance with the NIH. 

Unsure which vitamins and supplements are ideal for a senior you love? Check out our respite care in Dowagiac, MI and the surrounding areas and let us provide accompaniment and transportation to the doctor’s office to find out. Contact us online or by phone at (866) 229-2505 for additional details on how we can help enhance senior health with professional in-home care services.

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