Nutrition for Seniors: 9 Essential Vitamins and Nutrients You Should Be Getting

Post Date: May 2018  |  Category: Diet & Fitness Senior Health Vitamins & Supplements

Husband and wife chopping fresh fruits and vegetables in the kitchen.

Add these 9 essential nutrients for older adults into your diet to maintain health and well-being for an active lifestyle.

As you get older, it becomes increasingly important to incorporate the recommended amount of vitamins and nutrients into your diet. Eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in nutrients not only fuels your body, but can help to prevent common conditions like osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and muscle loss. Here's a breakdown of nine important vitamins and nutrients and how to get more of them in your diet.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which makes it a vital part of supporting bone health. Many common foods are fortified with vitamin D, like dairy products, orange juice, and cereals, but experts also recommend spending some time in the sun (with SPF on of course!) as sun exposure triggers Vitamin D production by the skin.

Calcium

Getting enough calcium in your diet as you age is essential to maintaining strong and healthy bones. If you aren't getting adequate amounts of calcium, the body will take what it needs from the bones which, over time, can increase your risk for low bone mass (osteopenia), osteoporosis, or bone fractures. Dairy products, dark, leafy green vegetables, certain fruits, and beans are all good sources of dietary calcium.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is important throughout your life and is an important part of nutrition for seniors. This essential nutrient can be found in foods like salmon, herring, walnuts, and flaxseed, and is also available in supplement form.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 plays a role in brain function and the health of the nervous and immune systems. A vitamin B6 deficiency is often coupled with deficiencies in other B vitamins like folate and B12. Incorporating poultry, fish, potatoes, chickpeas, and bananas into your diet can help boost your intake of vitamin B6, though supplements may be necessary for individuals who live with kidney disease or other conditions that prevent the small intestine from absorbing nutrients from food.

Vitamin B12

Due to a variety of other conditions that are common in older adults, seniors are typically at a higher risk for B12 deficiency. The good news is that you can find vitamin B12 in a variety of foods including eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood. Vegetarian or vegan options include fortified food products like cereals, non-dairy milk, and some meat substitutes. If you think you may not be getting enough B12 in your diet, your doctor or Rite Aid Pharmacist can help you determine if supplements (which come in tablet, powder, or liquid form) are right for you.

Potassium

This mineral and electrolyte plays a vital role in muscle contractions, heart function, and fluid balance, and can be found in several different whole foods including leafy vegetables, legumes, and fish. Including potassium-rich foods in your daily menu can help support a balanced diet.

Magnesium

Magnesium is essential to a variety of body processes, including energy creation, protein formation, gene maintenance, muscle movements, nervous system regulation, and absorption of vitamin D, and is found in every cell in the body. Preliminary research has also shown that magnesium levels may play a role in managing depression and improving mood. Dietary magnesium can be found in foods like pumpkin seeds, spinach, black beans, halibut, and almonds. Magnesium supplements that are more easily absorbed by the body are magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, and magnesium chloride.

Folate

Folate, known in its synthetic form as folic acid, is key to red blood cell formation and healthy cell development. It can be found in dark leafy vegetables, beans, and peas, as well as nuts, oranges, lemons, bananas, lemons, and strawberries.

Zinc

Zinc assists in wound healing and can also impact the senses of taste and smell. It can be found in several foods, including fortified cereals, red meat, eggs, and seafood.

Your local Rite Aid pharmacy is a great resource for learning more about supplements and nutrition for seniors. Since recommendations can vary based on the individual, talk to your doctor if you have specific questions about your unique vitamin and mineral levels and how to best address them. You should also consult with your doctor or Rite Aid Pharmacist before adding any supplement or over the counter product to your current medication regimen.

By Samantha Markovitz, NBC-HWC

 

Sources:

Web MD, Calcium and Vitamin D: Top Foods to Prevent Osteoporosis

Livestrong, Recommended Dosage of Vitamin B12 for Seniors

Mayo Clinic, Vitamin B-6

Healthline, How Much Potassium Do You Need Per Day?

Healthline, 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Magnesium

Mayo Clinic, Folate (folic acid)

AARP, AARP Vitamin Guide - Essential Vitamins, Minerals

National Institutes of Health, Magnesium

National Institutes of Health, Calcium

National Institutes of Health, Vitamin D


These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.