Everyone needs to ensure they have an ample supply of essential vitamins and minerals, especially for older adults. While it is important for seniors to focus on obtaining vitamins and minerals through a balanced diet, supplements can be a helpful addition to ensure optimal nutrient intake. However, it is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements to ensure they are suitable and safe for individual needs. This is especially true for older adults who may be taking medications that supplements could interfere with.

Related: Medication Management Tips for Seniors

Why Are Vitamin and Mineral Levels Particularly Important for Seniors?

  1. Nutrient Absorption:

Older people’s bodies may become less efficient at absorbing certain nutrients from food. This can lead to deficiencies even if a senior is consuming an adequate diet. Therefore, it becomes crucial to ensure they get enough vitamins and minerals to support their overall health. 

  1. Reduced Appetite:

Seniors may experience reduced appetite, resulting in decreased food intake. This can make it challenging to obtain all the necessary nutrients solely from food. By incorporating a balanced diet along with vitamin and mineral supplementation, seniors can bridge nutrient gaps and maintain their health. 

  1. Age-Related Changes:

Ageing is associated with various physiological changes that can affect nutrient requirements. For example, seniors may have reduced stomach acid production, which can impair the absorption of certain vitamins like B12. Additionally, bone density decreases with age, making adequate calcium and vitamin D intake essential to maintain bone health and prevent osteoporosis.

  1. Immune Function:

A well-functioning immune system is crucial for seniors as they are often more susceptible to infections and illnesses. Certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D, and zinc, play vital roles in supporting immune function. Ensuring an adequate intake of these nutrients can help seniors maintain a robust immune system and reduce the risk of infections.

  1. Chronic Health Conditions:

Seniors are more likely to have chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoarthritis. Some vitamins and minerals have been linked to a lower risk of these conditions and may help manage their symptoms. For instance, omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for heart health, while magnesium may help with muscle and joint pain.

Related: The Best Seniors Discounts in Canada

Senior woman taking vitamins and minerals

What Vitamins and Minerals Are Seniors At-Risk of Deficiency?

  1. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 helps your body produce red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body’s organs. With age, a person’s stomach lining naturally thins, making it more difficult to absorb vitamin B12. A deficiency of this vitamin leaves older adults at risk of heart disease and weakens cognitive abilities. 

Most people get their vitamin B12 from animal products. However, with a rise in vegan and plant-based diets, other options that contain vitamin B12 have become popular, such as fortified cereals, algae, seaweed, nutritional yeast, oat and almond milk, and certain meat substitutes like Impossible. Supplement stores and online health stores have also risen in popularity and accessibility. For more information on vitamin B12, check out this article, “The Complete Guide to Vitamin B12”.

  1. Calcium 

Calcium is a key component of bone tissue and is essential to properly developing and maintaining strong bones and teeth. As you age, osteoporosis or thinning bones becomes increasingly likely, posing more risk if you fall. Calcium can help lower this risk. It is naturally found in dairy products, eggs, and leafy greens. Calcium supplements are another option to ensure you are getting an ample supply of this mineral.

  1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an essential role in boosting the immune system and helping the body absorb calcium (one of the reasons it is effective to join the two together in supplement form). Older adults are especially at risk of vitamin D deficiency as production and metabolism change with age because of reduced sun exposure and reduced production capacity of the skin. 

As the summer season returns, make sure you are getting outside for a few minutes each day (with sunscreen!). Though, if you live in a cooler and cloudier climate, you can get vitamin D through egg yolks, fatty fish, fortified foods, and supplements. 

  1. Magnesium

Magnesium plays many crucial roles in the body. It helps support a healthy immune system, regulate the nervous system, maintain proper energy levels, and transport calcium to the bones. It is essential to the structural development of bones, and older people need even more of it to keep their bones strong and healthy. 

You can get magnesium from whole grains, green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. 

Final Thoughts

It is important that seniors pay attention to their levels of vitamins and minerals, as well as any possible deficiencies. Proper nutrition is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being at any age. A balanced diet provides the necessary nutrients to support bodily functions, energy levels, and organ health. Good nutrition helps seniors maintain a healthy weight, support their immune system, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and improve their quality of life. 

For more senior’s tips and tricks, check out the Lynn Valley Care Centre blog!