Vitamins are components your body needs to be healthy and function soundly. These substances can be found in food but also come in the form of health supplements. What your food intake doesn’t provide, the supplements will.
There are 9 essential vitamins, and 4 of them (vitamins A, D, E, and K) are fat-soluble. The remainder (the B-Complex and C vitamins) are all water-soluble. Vitamins are vital for normal cell growth, function, and development. A vitamin deficiency can be downright dangerous for your health, doubly so as you hit your golden years. Here are vitamins you should pay close attention to as you age:
- Vitamin A (Retinol)
This vitamin helps with cell growth and the formation of healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin A is also essential for your eyesight and to keep your skin healthy. Vitamin A is composed of 2 compounds:
- Retinoid: You can find this in meat, milk, and other dairy products
- Beta-carotene: Beta-carotene is found in yellow-orange foods like apricots, carrots, mango, oranges, squash, and sweet potatoes as well as in green leafy vegetables. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness and dry eyes.
If you don’t think you’re consuming enough vitamin A, talk with your doctor about a supplement.
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin B12 is the only water-soluble vitamin. It’s stored in the liver for lengthy spells until the body needs it. It plays a vital role in red blood cell production, cell metabolism, and DNA synthesis. Anemia can also occur with too little cobalamin in the body. B12 is essential for creating red blood cells and DNA and also for maintaining healthy nerve function. Since it’s harder to absorb vitamin B12 from food as you age, you might not be getting enough even if you’re eating all the right foods. Voice any concerns you might have with your doctor and mention vitamin B12 supplements.
- Vitamin C
While taking vitamin C supplements to ward off coughs and colds is famous, is it worthwhile? In general, not really. If you eat enough fruit and vegetables, that should provide you with all the vitamin C you need naturally. Shoot for the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables. Eat plenty of citrus fruit. Mangoes and strawberries are also excellent sources of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant.
- Vitamin D
Sunlight is an abundant source of vitamin D, but perhaps you’re not getting out and about as much as you’d like now that you’re older. Vitamin D helps your body absorb other nutrients more efficiently, notably calcium. This helps to prevent osteoporosis and other bone issues. Some preliminary research also shows that vitamin D could ease some chronic diseases like MS, rheumatoid arthritis, type-1 diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. Your skin becomes less efficient at producing the vitamins you need from sunlight, so supplements can be useful for bridging this gap. What else can be beneficial as you get older, then?
- Omega-3 Fats
These fatty acids occur naturally in food and help mitigate many symptoms associated with aging. Omega-3 fats can be useful if you have rheumatoid arthritis and they can also slow the way AMD (age-related macular degeneration) progresses. As long as you can eat a couple of portions of fish each week – salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel in particular – you’ll hit your recommended amount with no issues. If you’re not managing to eat this much oily fish and you need a helping hand, investigate supplementation with your doctor.
An amino sugar, glucosamine, is found in your joints. If you choose to take a supplement, you might find that the connective tissues and joints ease up if they’ve been giving you problems.
To keep your bones as healthy as possible, you need sufficient potassium. Potassium helps with cell function and can also reduce high blood pressure and develop kidney stones. The bad news is that many elderly Americans fail to get the 4700 mg of potassium they need each day. The adequate natural source of potassium is fruit and vegetables, with bananas, potatoes, plums, and prunes proving strong sources. Taking too much potassium, though, can be dangerous, so make an appointment with your healthcare provider before embarking on a course of potassium.
Getting adequate fiber is essential to keep food moving through your digestive tract seamlessly. Whole beans, grains, fruit, and vegetables all come packed with fiber, and protecting you against heart disease is just one of the benefits of a fiber-rich diet. Unfortunately, the average elderly American is only getting around half the fiber they need. Supplementation can fill the void left in a diet without enough fresh fruit and vegetables, so take action.
The mineral iron performs several vital roles, including making the red blood cells that carry blood around your body. Most people manage to get all the iron they need from a regular diet. If you’re getting older, you shouldn’t routinely supplement using iron unless you’re sure that you’re iron-deficient. Since an iron deficiency in individuals over 50’s is often an indicator of underlying health issues, speak with your doctor about any concerns here before reaching for the supplements.
The elderly are at risk for nutrient inadequacy, and that inadequacy can have a specific negative impact on many aspects of their health Vitamins and minerals are even more critical than ever as you get older, and if you’re not getting enough through your diet, health supplements can pick up the slack.