What Are Some Essential Vitamins & Minerals for Older Adults?

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Important Vitamins for Senior Health in Richmond, VA

Recent studies report 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 eating a healthy diet may fall short. To ensure a well-balanced diet for your senior loved one, here’s a list of the top vitamins and minerals for senior health and how to incorporate them into his or her diet.

Vitamin D

The Journal of Nutrition estimates 70 percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. Low vitamin D levels can lead to heart disease, some cancers, and a weakened immune system. Seniors should spend 5–30 minutes in direct sunlight several days a week. Vitamin D is present in the flesh of fatty fish (tuna, salmon, and mackerel). Seniors can obtain additional vitamin D in D2 or D3 varieties of supplements. At low doses, the differences between them are negligible.

Some older adults just need a little help stepping out of their homes and soaking up the sun, while others need around-the-clock care to ensure their health and safety. Every senior has different needs when aging in place. Some simply need occasional assistance with household chores, while others may be managing a serious illness and require more extensive live-in care. Richmond seniors can count on Home Care Assistance to provide the in-home care they need and deserve. 

Calcium

While we’re all familiar with calcium’s importance to bone health, it’s also utilized in the muscles and blood vessels and is especially important in reducing fall risk. The healthiest calcium-rich foods include milk, yogurt, cheese, broccoli, kale, and fine-boned fish. Calcium supplements are available as calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, with the latter being more popular because it’s easier to break down during digestion and can be taken on an empty stomach. Additional benefits are provided to seniors who pair supplements with vitamin D, as it’s known to aid in calcium absorption.

Magnesium

It’s estimated half of all Americans are magnesium deficient. Low magnesium levels can lead to high blood pressure, insomnia, and anxiety. Almonds, spinach, cashews, and peanuts are known to have high concentrations of magnesium. For individuals over 50, the recommended amount of magnesium is 320 mg/day for women and 420 mg/day for men. These types of supplements can also be purchased in slow-release versions, which are recommended for older adults.

Iron

An essential component of hemoglobin, iron also supports metabolism. Since most iron is stored in the blood, any condition involving blood loss can cause low iron levels. While oysters and beef liver are known to provide some of the most highly concentrated levels of iron, they’re an acquired taste. Seniors will likely be more successful at getting enough iron by integrating beef, cashews, chickpeas, sardines, tuna, chicken, and eggs—all of which are iron-rich foods—into their diets. Aging adults shouldn’t take more than 45 mg/day of iron, as excessive iron can reduce zinc absorption and cause stomach upset.

If your loved one needs help planning and preparing nutritious meals, help is just a phone call away. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality elderly home care. Trust Home Care Assistance to help your elderly loved one age in place safely and comfortably.

Vitamin B12

B12 is used by every cell in the body, particularly those in 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 a B12 deficiency. 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. Eggs, low-fat or skim milk, and some cheeses are also great options. B12 is also available as tablets, sublingual tablets, or sprays, all of which offer effective and safe methods of delivery for seniors.

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

In Richmond, home care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trust your loved one’s care to the professionals at Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (804) 207-4746.

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