5 Recommended Vitamins For Elderly People
April 11th, 2022
Vitamins and minerals play an important role in helping to keep your body healthy, which becomes all the more important as you get older.
Everyone’s individual needs are different, so if you’re looking for advice on the right vitamins for seniors over 70 or the best vitamins for an elderly man, it’s best to speak to your GP to find out exactly what you will benefit from most.
However, there are some key vitamins that everyone needs to get via their diet or from supplements. Here are five vitamins and minerals to make sure you’re getting enough of throughout your life, but especially as you get older:
1. Vitamin B12
The NHS explains that vitamin B12 plays a key role in releasing energy from the food that you eat, and it also helps your body to make red blood cells to help keep your nervous system healthy.
It can become more difficult to absorb vitamin B12 into your body as you get older, so you may need to look into supplements. However, it’s important that the vitamin B12 dosage for seniors isn’t too high, as this could be harmful, so speak to your GP about your specific needs.
You should be able to consume enough vitamin B12 via your diet if you eat meat and fish, but vegetarians or vegans may need a supplement.
Which Foods Contain Vitamin B12?
Try to get more vitamin B12 into your diet by consuming the following foods:
- Low-fat milk
- Low-fat cheese
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, helps to protect cells to keep them healthy, and it helps to maintain healthy skin, blood vessels, bones, and cartilage, the NHS explains. It’s therefore important to make sure you’re getting the vitamin C you need to stay healthy, especially as you get older.
This vitamin can’t be stored in the body, so you need to make sure you’re consuming some vitamin C every day, ideally via your diet, although you can also get supplements that contain vitamin C.
Vitamin C Foods
Vitamin C is found in foods including:
- Citrus fruits, including lemons, limes, grapefruit, and oranges
- Orange juice
- Brussels sprouts
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy, all of which becomes more important as you get older, particularly if you have osteoporosis, as both bone density and muscle can start to decline.
Signs of vitamin D deficiency in elderly people can include muscle weakness, potentially making movement more difficult, while some seniors also experience mood changes. If you have any concerns about these symptoms, you should always speak to your GP.
Vitamin D is also sometimes referred to as ‘the sunshine vitamin’, as natural sunlight is a key source. However, it’s important to take care to avoid too much exposure to direct sunlight, and to wear sun protection to prevent damage to your skin. If you’re housebound, spend a lot of time indoors, or it’s winter and sunlight is lacking, supplements may help you to increase your levels of this key vitamin.
Priya Tew, spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, explained: “It can be difficult in the UK to meet our vitamin D needs through sunlight and diet alone. For this reason, it’s recommended that over-65s take a supplement of 10 micrograms per day. Try to get out in the sun for 10-15 minutes a day without sunscreen too.”
Foods With Vitamin D
Try to incorporate foods that contain vitamin D into your diet, alongside getting some exposure to natural sunlight every day. Foods that contain vitamin D include:
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- Some fortified foods, such as cereals and fat spreads
Iron plays an essential role in producing the red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. As a result, a lack of iron can leave you feeling weak, fatigued, and lacking in energy.
If you’re anaemic in later life, you may feel confused and may even notice a decline in your functions – make sure you speak to your doctor to rule out anything more serious, but they may advise that you need more iron in your diet. Anaemia can be a risk if you’re taking certain medications, while vegetarians and vegans are also more likely to experience an iron deficiency.
Which Foods Contain Iron?
Iron supplements are one option for increasing your levels of this important mineral, but iron can also be found in many foods, including:
- Red meat, which also contains protein and zinc; however, it’s important to make sure you’re avoiding beef that’s too fatty, as this could have other health implications
- Dark leafy green vegetables, such as spinach
- Legumes, such as kidney beans and chickpeas
- Fortified breakfast cereals, bread, and pasta
- Dried apricots
- Pumpkin seeds
If you’re trying to increase your iron intake, you should try to avoid drinking tea or coffee with your meal to improve the iron’s absorption. Priya Tew of the BDA explained: “Drinking tea and coffee with a meal will reduce the amount of iron absorbed, so keep these drinks to in between meals. To boost iron absorption, have plenty of vitamin C in your diet and try having a glass of fruit juice with an iron-rich meal.”
Omega-3 fatty acids are classed as essential fatty acids; our bodies need them, but we cannot produce them ourselves. This means we need to get omega-3 from our diet or from supplements.
Omega-3s are classed as a good type of fat, and there are three main types: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linoleic acid). Look for EPA and DHA on the labels of omega-3 supplements, as these are the fatty acids we need for a healthy heart and blood circulation. Omega-3s are also known to play a role in helping to maintain eye health and brain health, which becomes all the more important in later life.
Fish oil is typically the key ingredient in omega-3 supplements, so try to make sure you’re choosing supplements that have been sustainably sourced, from waters where overfishing isn’t a problem.
It’s recommended that everyone consumes two portions of fish per week to get the recommended amount of omega-3, and one of these should be oily. One portion comes in at 140g. Oily fish include salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines, pilchards, and anchovies. Coldwater fatty fish typically contain the highest amounts of omega-3.
Other foods that contain omega-3 essential fatty acids include:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds and flaxseed oil
Staying Healthy In Later Life
It’s important to try to stay healthy in later life by eating a balanced diet featuring the vitamins your body needs, and by keeping your body moving as much as possible, even if this is through something low impact like chair yoga.
At New Care homes, all of our staff are trained to deliver the Oomph! wellbeing programme, which is designed to support residents in physical and mentally stimulating activities, to keep their bodies moving and their minds active, helping to support a healthy lifestyle. What’s more, our trained chefs cook a variety of healthy, nutritious, balanced meals for our care home residents every day.