Everyone needs vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals help your body grow and support a variety of essential functions, such as helping you resist infections and keeping your bones strong. Not getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals can also lead to a variety of health issues. Good nutrition for seniors is particularly important because, as people age, their bodies have trouble absorbing some vitamins and essential minerals, so it's important to monitor your intake and make sure that you're getting the right amount for your age and gender.
Some people may opt for a senior supplement such as Rite Aid Central-Vite Senior Multi-Vitamin Supplement to make sure they're getting their daily recommended allowance (RDA). However, though they may be convenient, most people don't actually need to take a senior supplement if they're eating a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet and following guidelines on proper nutrition for seniors. Here's a list of the vitamins and minerals that are especially important for older adults, along with information and ideas to help you make sure you're getting enough of each:
This vitamin, which can be produced naturally in the body through sun exposure, maintains healthy bones and teeth and helps your body absorb calcium. Getting adequate amounts of vitamin D has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and depression.
- RDA: at least 600 International Units (IU) for adults aged 50 to 70. If you are over 70, you need at least 800 IU. Adults should not ingest more than 4,000 IU per day as very high levels of vitamin D can cause kidney and tissue damage
- Good sources: fortified milk, juices, and cereals, fatty fish, and through sun exposure.
- Try this: incorporate fatty fish such as salmon or tuna into your diet. According to the National Institutes of Health, a three-ounce sockeye salmon fillet contains about 450 IU of vitamin D.
Vitamin B6 helps form red blood cells, strengthen the immune system, and regulate blood sugars.
- RDA: 1.7 milligrams (mg) per day for men over 50 and 1.5 mg per day for women over 50. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, very high levels of B6 (over 100 mg per day) can cause nerve damage.
- Good sources: bananas, potatoes, avocados, nuts, and fortified cereals
- Try this: a medium-sized baked potato slathered with low-fat Greek yogurt and sprinkled with garlic salt. According to Health.com, baked potatoes have 35 percent of your daily B6 requirement per serving. Leave the skin on for extra fiber and potassium.
This B vitamin helps make red blood cells and keeps your brain and nervous system healthy. According to AARP, up to one-third of adults over 50 do not absorb enough vitamin B12 from food. B12 deficiency can lead to serious health issues such as anemia, as well as nerve and brain damage, reports Medical News Today.
- RDA: 2.4 micrograms (mcg) for men and women
- Good sources: meat, shellfish, milk, cheese, and eggs
- Try this: a salmon fillet baked with lemon and fresh dill
This B vitamin (aka B9 or folate) is important for forming cells. According to MedlinePlus, folic acid is also used to help prevent heart disease, stroke, and memory loss.
- RDA 400 mcg for men and women
- Good sources: spinach, oranges, beans, and fortified cereals and bread
- Try this: sautée spinach and some crushed garlic in olive oil, and serve it over the pasta of your choice. One cup of raw spinach gets you 15 percent of your folic acid RDA.
Calcium is a mineral that helps build strong bones and teeth. It can help prevent diseases such as osteoporosis, which is especially important for older women who are at higher risk for this disease, according to MedlinePlus.
- RDA: 1,000 mg for men 51 to 70, and 1,200 mg for men over 70 and women over 50
- Good sources: kale, milk, yogurt, canned sardines, salmon, and fortified foods and juices
- Try this: a cup of plain low-fat yogurt mixed with an ounce of slivered almonds and a cup of blackberries. This delicious breakfast or snack provides about 520 mg of calcium (almost half of your RDA).
By making sure that you're getting your RDA of essential vitamins and minerals, you can help keep your mind and body healthy. You should be able to get the vitamins and minerals you need through your diet, but if you think your diet may be lacking, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about choosing a supplement that's right for you.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
National Institute on Aging, Vitamins and Minerals
AARP, Vitamins from A to Z
Medicinenet.com, Vitamin D Deficiency
European Journal of Social Psychology, Vitamin D
Harvard Health Publications, Vitamin B
MedlinePlus, Vitamin B6
National Institutes of Health, Calcium Fact Sheet
USDA, Yogurt, Plain Low Fat
USDA, Slivered almonds
Medical News Today, Vitamin B12 Deficiency
MedlinePlus, Folic Acid