As we age, our vitamin and nutrient intake shifts. Certain vitamins or nutrients may require higher (or lower) doses because of how our bodies absorb them or due to the benefits they provide. However, other factors can contribute to nutrient intake, such as surgery or medication. Vitamins perform hundreds of tasks in our bodies and are vital to our health, regardless of age. But, answering the question, “Which vitamins are the most beneficial for seniors?” is tricky because it is situational, and every person is different.
McClellan Senior Living in Anniston, Alabama, understands the value of vitamins for seniors. If you are concerned about the vitamin intake of a parent or loved one, we recommend speaking to a healthcare professional before making any changes to diet or adding supplements to their routine. However, here are what are considered some of the best vitamins for seniors and why.
Brain Development & Health
Like many of the vitamins our body requires, vitamin B6 is not naturally produced or held onto. Since vitamin B6 is not retained, this vitamin is typically ingested through food.
Recent studies have suggested that vitamin B6 may reduce blood homocysteine levels, which are considered a risk factor for the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin B6 may also prevent clogged arteries and minimize heart disease risk.
Immune System & Heart Health
Vitamin D is another crucial vitamin for seniors. Vitamin D functions like a steroid hormone in our body, and it is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the United States, with over 40% of the adult population having low levels.
For seniors, the deficiency is much more common. A recent study found that 74% of the seniors participating in the research had an insufficient amount of vitamin D in their system. A vitamin D deficiency may be hard to pinpoint as the symptoms can be attributed to other issues.
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms can include:
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Hair loss
- Bone, back, or muscle pain
Vitamin D is considered one of the best vitamins for seniors as it helps our body fight off infections, assist in muscle comfort, and can regulate cell growth.
Vitamin D is also unique in the way that it is required in our system to absorb calcium, the mineral that helps maintain and build bone density.
Some foods naturally contain vitamin D, as well as foods fortified to provide the vitamin. However, diet alone typically will not give you or your loved one the recommended dosage. The best source of vitamin D comes from the sun.
Other Nutrients & Minerals
Vitamins are not the only ones tasked with maintaining our body’s health. There are many nutrients and minerals that play principal roles in our bodies, but some may find themselves deficient in. Minerals and nutrients that have common deficiencies can include:
Iron - Iron is a mineral that can be found naturally in many foods. While this mineral helps reduce fatigue, boosts our immune system, promotes muscle strength, and can improve our sleep life, it is also one of the most common deficiencies.
Calcium - This mineral is best known for the development and maintenance of bone density. Calcium also helps our hearts, muscles, and nerves function, and studies have shown that it can help reduce developing diseases such as certain cancers, and high blood pressure.
Fiber - Dietary fiber is essential for a healthy diet. While fiber is closely associated with promoting bowel health, it has several other benefits as well. Having a healthy fiber intake decreases our blood pressure, lowers cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and regulates blood sugar levels, which reduces the risk of developing Type-2 Diabetes.
Each nutrient plays a vital role in how our bodies function and our overall health. Once again, every senior is different, and if you believe your loved one has a vitamin deficiency, we encourage you to speak to a healthcare professional. This will ensure your loved one’s health and allow you to focus on the right key vitamins and nutrients.
If you found this blog helpful, we recommend visiting our McClellan Senior Living blog for more information regarding senior health and healthy aging.