And no, we’re not talking about the alphabet! Many seniors and older adults don’t realize the importance of getting the proper amount of essential vitamins on a daily basis. Did you know that 2/3 of older people admitted to hospitals are undernourished? The elderly are at an especially high risk of malnutrition for reasons such as lack of appetite which can be a result of medications or disability and also reduced food intake because of certain medical conditions. Sometimes, a healthy, balanced diet isn’t enough—vitamin/mineral supplements become necessary as we age. Here’s a brief rundown on some of the most important vitamins aging bodies need to stay nourished, courtesy of the Vitamins & Nutrition Center:
Vitamin D: This is necessary for calcium absorption—the two work in harmony to maintain healthy bones and prevent bone mass loss. They also keep the nervous system healthy and boost the immune system. The elderly are especially susceptible to having brittle bones which can result in serious fractures or broken limbs if/when they fall.
Vitamin K: A common deficiency in the elderly, vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and enhancing bone density—it is often a supplement for people at risk for osteoporosis. Research is currently being done to investigate the link between vitamin K deficiency and if it is a contributing factor to the development of Alzheimer’s.
Antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, and E are well-known antioxidants—defenders against free radicals, which destroy our bodies’ good cells and are linked to diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, AIDS, cancer, premature aging, stroke, kidney and liver disorders and many other detrimental health issues.
Taking a good multi-vitamin as we age is important. Before starting any nutritional supplement, consult your doctor who can tell you the proper dosage. More information on nutrition for the elderly can be found here: