As we age, we are not always able to get all the nutrients we need from food. Our bodies don’t absorb nutrients the way they did when we were younger, and medications we may take can flush out nutrients before they even have time to be absorbed. Certain diseases and chronic conditions may also make it harder for our body to absorb necessary nutrients, or they may require a certain diet that is lower in certain vitamins and nutrients. That’s where vitamins and supplements come in. However, while the vitamin shelves at the grocery store may make you feel like you need a cabinet full of all different kinds of supplements, we’ll go over today are the key ones to really consider – the top five vitamins for seniors.
- Vitamin D helps to maintain your bone health, and with a higher risk of osteoporosis as we get older, this is an important one. Weaker bones can make falls more dangerous and cause us to lose our independence more easily. There are also studies showing that Vitamin D may lower your risk of heart disease, inflammation, and diabetes. As we get older, we may not get out as much, and lack of sunlight can lower your Vitamin D levels. You can find Vitamin D in cereal, fruit juice, green leafy vegetables, canned fish, milk, cheese, and egg yolks.
- Vitamin B12 helps keep your nerves and blood cells healthy, and this is one of the vitamins that becomes harder to absorb as we get older. This means you have to work even harder to incorporate it into your diet. You can find it in animal products like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.
- Vitamin B6 helps produce something called neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that help your brain and nerve cells communicate with each other. This keeps your metabolism and immune system working the way it should. Vitamin B6 may also help diabetes, arthritis, and memory loss. Sources of Vitamin B6 include fish, beef liver and other organ meats, potatoes and other starchy veggies, and non-citrus fruits. You can also find it in fortified cereals.
- Vitamin B9, also known as folate or folic acid, can help to prevent memory loss in older adults. It also helps to change carbohydrates that you get from breads and starchy foods into energy, and this is very important as we age. You can find Vitamin B9 in green leafy vegetables, beans, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.
- Multivitamin supplements are often very popular among seniors and other individuals because they help to round out many of the vitamins you may be missing out on in your diet. They often contain the vitamins listed above along with others, and there are often multivitamin supplements formulated specifically for seniors.
While vitamin supplements may be necessary for many seniors, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before you start taking them. Even too much of a good thing can be harmful in certain cases. Your doctor knows your full medical history and what other medications you may be taking, so they are the ones who can best advise you on any additional vitamins or supplements.
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