Vitamins, minerals, and supplements – oh my! Seventy percent of older adults are taking them; but could vitamins benefit your senior health? After all, a healthy, balanced diet offers seniors essential nutrients. But there are particular areas of deficiency which could call for the addition of a supplement. Be sure to check with the doctor before making any changes, but with their approval or recommendation, consider the following:
Aging bones are susceptible to fractures and breaks when calcium intake is inadequate. This is especially true for post-menopausal women, with a full 50% of those over age 50 breaking a bone as the result of osteoporosis. However, men are also in danger for serious complications from calcium deficiency. A hip fracture in men, for example, is much more likely to be fatal than it is for women.
The very best natural sources for calcium are salmon, leafy greens, kale, broccoli, and dairy products, but most women over age 50 and men over age 70 aren’t getting sufficient calcium from food alone. The NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements recommends 1,200 mg of calcium per day for women over age 51 and men over age 71, and 1,000 mg daily for men ages 51 – 70.
Vitamin D is calcium’s best friend. They work most effectively when taken together to improve not just bone health, but the immune and nervous systems and perhaps the heart as well. Sunshine is the best source for vitamin D, but aging skin as well as the risk of skin cancer may cause roadblocks to obtaining adequate levels.
Recommendations are 15 mcg/600 IU per day up to age 70, and 20 mcg/800 IU per day for people over age 71. If vitamin D supplements are advised by the doctor, they should always be taken with food for optimal absorption.
Deficiencies of vitamin B12 are common in older adults, and even more so for those who take certain medicines (especially gastric acid inhibitors or metformin). Without sufficient vitamin B12, older adults are far more vulnerable to developing anemia, nerve damage or neuropathy, balance problems, depression, confusion, poor memory, and dementia.
The NIH recommends 2.4 mcg per day, which can be obtained through a diet high in fish and clams, liver, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and fortified cereals. And unlike other minerals and vitamins, even large quantities of vitamin B12 haven’t been shown to cause harm, according to the NIH.
Unsure which dietary supplements are appropriate for a senior you love? Let one of Responsive Home Care’s care providers accompany you to the doctor’s office to find out. Contact us at (954) 486-6440 for more information on how we can help boost older adult health by providing home care assistance in Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding areas. See our service area page for all of the Broward County communities we service.