Vitamins and Minerals to Support Health and Vitality in Seniors
Seniors today are living longer, healthier, and more active lives than ever before. Advances in medicine and health care practices play a major role in this; however, people are also taking better care of themselves on a daily basis. A part of doing that means getting the vitamins and minerals that they need. Although people of all ages must meet certain nutritional requirements for good health and vitality, these requirements may change with age. While many nutritional needs can be met by one's diet, that may not be sufficient for people over the age of 50. Ideally, seniors should talk with their physician for advice on the best ways to meet their nutritional needs. It is helpful to understand what common vitamins and minerals are necessary and why.
Strong bones are important, particularly as people age. Falls and conditions such as osteoporosis can cause bones to fracture and break. As a result, bone fractures are a common reason why seniors may find themselves in the emergency room. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become brittle and weak. It affects older women more than other demographics, although men may also develop the condition. Calcium helps to strengthen bones and teeth. In addition, it also aids in the clotting of blood, it is necessary for a normal heartbeat, and it aids in the function of all of the body's organs in general. Food sources that contain calcium include milk and other dairy products, orange juice, and green leafy vegetables. For senior women, 1,200 mg of calcium is needed per day starting at the age of 51. Senior men should get 1,000 mg per day between the ages of 50 and 70, then 1,200 mg thereafter.
Vitamin D is another nutrient that many seniors do not get enough of. It plays a role in keeping bones strong, as it helps the body better absorb calcium. Additionally, it helps keep the immune system regulated, is necessary for muscle movement, and is important to human cells and their life cycle. Studies have shown that it may protect the body from diseases such as cancer of the breast, prostate, and colon. It may also help prevent diabetes, heart disease, and depression. The body naturally absorbs vitamin D from the sun, but not the full amount that is needed. Foods that contain vitamin D include fortified milk, mushrooms, and fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon. Some seniors may also need supplements to get their daily required dosage of vitamin D. Seniors between 51 and 70 years old require 600 IU of vitamin D per day, and that number rises to 800 IU after age 70.
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Vitamin B6 is necessary for metabolism, helps strengthen the immune system, and also aids red blood cell formation. In addition, it also plays a part in making norepinephrine and serotonin, two important chemicals in the brain. Men who are over the age of 51 require 1.7 mg of vitamin B6 per day, while women in the same age group require 1.5 mg. They can get the necessary amount of B6 from eating fruit, starchy vegetables, organ meats, fish, and poultry.
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Vitamin B12 is important in several ways, including contributing to the generation of DNA. It also helps keep both nerves and red blood cells healthy. People who are vitamin B12 deficient are at risk of nerve damage or neuropathy and megaloblastic anemia. Vitamin B12 can be found in animal-based foods, with clams and beef liver being the best sources. Certain food items, such as breakfast cereals, may be fortified with vitamin B12. Supplements are also available, and it can be prescribed and administered as a shot to remedy a serious deficiency. Seniors, both male and female, require 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 each day.
Folate, also known as folic acid, is needed for the production of new cells and the making of genetic material including DNA. It is also believed to help prevent changes in DNA that could cause cancer. Because it helps make normal red blood cells, it can help prevent anemia. Both men and women require 400 mcg of folate per day, which they can get from spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, Brussels sprouts, fruit, beans and nuts, and fortified cereals.