Aging is a natural part of the cycle of life, and it is possible to remain active and healthy as you age. However, your body goes through significant changes as you get older including thinning skin, muscle loss, and less stomach acid production. Nutrient deficiencies are also more common in older adults. The good news is many of these changes and potential problems can be prevented with a nutrient-rich diet and nutritional supplements for the elderly to keep you functioning at your best.
The elderly require fewer calories to meet their body’s needs. However, their nutrient needs are often greater as they get older making it particularly important to eat nutritionally dense meals that are also low in calories. Protein, fiber, and vitamin D are also particularly important for adults as they get older. These nutrients are best obtained by eating whole, unprocessed foods such as fresh or frozen vegetables, fruit, fish, chicken, and lean cuts of meat.
Vitamins and Minerals
Although the best way to get the vitamins and minerals you need is by eating healthy, nutrient-rich food, there are times when geriatric supplements can help fill in the gaps when your diet is less than optimal. Some important vitamin and mineral supplements for older adults include:
1. Vitamin B12
As you age, your body becomes less efficient at absorbing vitamin B12 from the food you eat. Vitamin B12 is important for maintaining healthy nerve function and for making red blood cells and DNA. For this reason, your healthcare provider may recommend you take a vitamin B12 supplement and suggest you eat more foods rich in vitamin B12 such as milk products, eggs, meat, fish, and chicken.
While calcium is important for many processes in our body, it is especially critical for maintaining strong healthy bones. Studies show that older adults consume less calcium and are therefore prone to calcium deficiency putting them at a higher risk for fractures. Post-menopausal women are also at a higher risk of osteoporosis due to calcium loss in their bones as their estrogen levels drop and often need supplementation as well.
Research shows that people over the age of 65 are more likely to have diets lacking in iron compared to younger adults. This can lead to an iron deficiency and a condition known as anemia. Iron is needed to produce hemoglobin in red blood cells which carries oxygen. Without enough iron, your red blood cells cannot carry enough oxygen and you may feel tired, weak, and cold.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for maintaining strong, dense bones and a healthy immune system. It is also needed for the absorption of calcium and may help prevent chronic diseases including multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders, cancer, Type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis to name a few. Vitamin D deficiency in the elderly has also been linked to a higher risk of falls. So be sure to speak with your healthcare provider to see if you may benefit from this important supplement.
Herbal supplements must be taken with caution by older adults, especially if you are taking medication including blood thinners like Coumadin. This is because some herbal supplements like St. John’s wort reduce the effectiveness of certain medications for seizures, depression, and heart disease. Other supplements like ginkgo biloba can thin the blood and lead to an increased risk of stroke or internal bleeding. For these reasons, it is wise to discuss with your healthcare provider what herbal supplements would be best for you. Also be sure to inform your doctor about any supplements you are taking before having surgery.
To learn more about the best nutritional supplements for you, talk to the experts at Apollo Medical Associates.
Apollo Medical Associates is a holistic functional medicine clinic with highly trained professionals offering functional medicine assessments, medical weight loss, and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Set up an appointment online today!