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Vitamins Important to Senior Health

By Jeff Hill, 6:08 pm on April 25, 2014

Recent studies report that loading up on multivitamins may be harmful for our health, suggesting a focused approach to supplements is best. To this end, we should strive to consume nutrients in their natural form, but even our best efforts at a healthy diet may fall short. To help ensure a well-balanced diet for seniors and older adults, Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care in Phoenix, has compiled a list of the top vitamins for senior health and how to incorporate them into one’s diet.

Vitamin D

The Journal of Nutrition estimates 70% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. Low D levels lead to heart disease, some cancers, and a weakened immune system.

  • Natural sources

    Spend 5-30 minutes in direct sunlight several days a week. D is present in the flesh of fatty fish (tuna, salmon, and mackerel).

  • Supplements Seniors can attain additional vitamin D in D2 or D3 varieties. At such low doses, the differences between them are negligible.

Calcium

While we’re all familiar with calcium’s importance in bone health, it’s also utilized in the muscles and blood vessels and is especially important in helping to reduce fall risk.

  • Natural sources

    The best foods to acquire calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, broccoli, kale, and fine boned fish.

  • Supplements

    Calcium supplements are offered as calcium carbonate and calcium citrate; the latter being more popular because it is easier to break down during digestion and can be taken on an empty stomach. Additional benefits are provided to seniors who pair the supplement with Vitamin D as it is known to aid in calcium absorption.

MagnesiumIt’s estimated half of all Americans are magnesium deficient. Low magnesium levels lead to high blood pressure, insomnia, and anxiety.

  • Natural sources

    Almonds, spinach, cashews, and peanuts are known to have high concentrations of magnesium.

  • Supplements

    For individuals over 50, the recommended amount of magnesium is 320mg/day for women and 420mg/day for men. These types of supplements can also be purchased in a “slow release” version which is also recommended for seniors and older adults.

Iron

An essential component of hemoglobin, iron also supports the metabolism. Since most iron is stored in the blood, any condition involving blood loss can cause low iron levels.

  • Natural sources

    While oysters and beef liver are known to be some of the most highly concentrated sources of iron, they are an acquired taste. Seniors will likely be more successful in integrating beef, cashews, chickpeas, sardines, tuna, chicken and eggs, all of which are iron rich foods, into their diet.

  • Supplements

    Adults should not take more than 45mg/day of iron, as excessive iron can reduce zinc absorption and cause stomach upset.

Vitamin B12

B12 is used by every cell in the body, particularly the brain and spinal cord. Absorption decreases with age and is further interrupted by several medications. Weakness, constipation, nerve problems, and dementia can all be side effects of B12 deficiency.

  • Natural sources

    Seniors can find B12 in foods such as shellfish and crab, as well as fortified soy products such as silken tofu and fortified all bran cereals. Low fat skim milk is also a great option, as well as some cheeses and eggs.

  • Supplements

    B12 is available in tablets, sublingual tablets, or sprays, all of which offer effective and safe methods of delivery for seniors.

Before making dramatic changes to your diet or adding any of the previously mentioned vitamin supplements, it is best to consult with your doctor or primary care physician to determine a plan that is suited to your individual health needs and current conditions and medications.

For more information about senior health and wellness, don’t hesitate to contact the Phoenix 24 hour care specialists at Home Care Assistance. Find out how we are helping enhance longevity and quality of life for seniors at home by calling us today at 602-388-1085.