To maintain proper health and well-being, our bodies require vitamins and minerals. While deficiencies can be life-threatening, some defects can even lead to serious chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Aging adults are particularly at risk because our ability to absorb and utilize specific vitamins and minerals decreases as we age. Here’s the list of the most crucial vitamins for seniors that they need.
Everyone needs calcium, but especially adults who are in their golden years. It’s an essential mineral that helps form strong bones and teeth and boosts brain health by facilitating cell-to-cell signaling in neurons (nerve cells). A diet rich in calcium promotes muscle function—from your heart to your calves—and helps muscles recover after activity. Experts recommend that adults over 50 consume 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily (about three servings of dairy), though older adults may need even more because bone density decreases with age. Choose low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt, nonfat cheese, fortified juice, or canned fish like salmon or sardines with soft bones you can chew for extra calcium.
One of vitamin B12’s primary functions is to help create red blood cells, which deliver oxygen throughout your body. Without oxygen, your brain cells can’t do their job, making memory loss and common confusion symptoms of a deficiency. Good vitamin B12 includes fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soy milk, veggie burgers, and beef liver. And unlike most other water-soluble vitamins, excess vitamin B12 won’t harm you; it gets flushed out through urine. But make sure you still get enough—too much can cause anemia.
Vitamin D helps with muscle function, bone health, and cognitive function. According to a study conducted by researchers at Tufts University, low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment. Aging adults should ensure they have enough vitamin D in their diets to minimize their risk of developing problems relating to memory loss. Some good sources of vitamin D include fish oil supplements, egg yolks, and tuna fish.
In addition to helping prevent neural tube defects, it supports the nervous system and keeps it functioning appropriately. Without it, you can experience neurological changes that result in peripheral neuropathy. In addition to eating nutrient-rich foods such as tuna, whole grains, and chicken, taking a B6 supplement can help meet your needs. If you need an even bigger boost of vitamin B6 from your diet because of a nutritional deficiency or poor absorption rate in your digestive tract, take 100 mg once daily for no more than six months at a time before consulting with your physician. Your multivitamin should also contain about 1 mg of B6 per day to help ensure you’re getting enough.
Many Aging adults need more magnesium, especially those who have had a heart attack. Magnesium helps prevent blood clots and control blood pressure and can help lower cholesterol. In addition, magnesium is also known to play an important role in building new bone tissue. Magnesium minerals can be found in fish, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens such as spinach.
Probiotics are a must for golden age adults. The digestive system slows down with age, which means that probiotics are even more critical than ever before to keep things moving correctly. Probiotics also promote good health by boosting immunity and reducing infection rates. Probiotics can help prevent constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, and gas, as well as helping to flush toxins from your body. Foods rich in probiotics include yogurt, miso soup, and kimchi. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about what works best for you.
Omega-3 fatty acids help brain cells and nerves grow and work more efficiently. To promote optimal health, experts recommend getting at least two servings of fish each week—preferably wild salmon or tuna. If you’re not a fish lover, consider taking an omega-3 supplement.