As you get older, your body requires more and more help getting the vitamins and nutrients it needs to function properly. However, complications because of dietary restrictions and availability often mean that older adults don’t consume as much of these vitamins as they need. This can lead to noticeable declines in their well-being and health.
General Signs of Mild Vitamin Deficiency
The signs and symptoms of vitamin deficiency depends on which vitamin the older adult in question needs.
But according to experts, the two common signs of mild vitamin deficiency are as follows:
- A condition where someone doesn’t produce enough blood cells, resulting in thin blood and reduced functionality.
- Cognitive impairment. Can manifest as delirium, depression, decreased thinking capacity and memory loss.
A healthy diet and proper supplements are the best ways to combat vitamin deficiency among older adults. Professional facilities, such as village-style residential care homes and similar institutions, have dedicated nursing staff who help administer supplements and ensure dietary compliance.
If you have an older adult living with you, make sure you consult regularly with a physician to check for deficiencies. But you should also educate yourself on some of the vital vitamins your ageing relative needs to feel happy, healthy and alive.
The original benefits of vitamin D were thought to be related solely to maintaining the health of your skeletal system. However, researchers discovered that vitamin D plays an important role in the nervous and cardiovascular systems. There’s been evidence of vitamin D deficiency contributing to osteoporosis, hypertension and even cancer.
Sources: Sunlight is the primary source of vitamin D, and you could meet the requirement by just taking in enough sun. However, as people grow older, the skin’s ability to absorb and process sunlight becomes less efficient. Aside from vitamin supplements and fortified foods, you can include more eggs and fatty fish, like salmon or tuna, to an older person’s diet.
Vitamin B12 is required to create red blood cells, which transport iron and oxygen throughout the body. This vitamin is also responsible for keeping nerves healthy and functional. It’s also important in creating DNA.
Sources: Because of its importance, there’s an abundance of food and supplements fortified with vitamin B12. It’s also found in dairy and protein-rich foods such as meat and eggs. But a lot of older adults can develop atrophic gastritis, which decreases the digestive tract’s ability to absorb vitamins. Consult a physician if an older adult suffers from this condition to determine the best method of introducing the vitamin.
Calcium is popularly known for its role in keeping your bones strong but it’s also vital in several other bodily systems. The vitamin is so important to your body that when you’re not consuming enough of it, it will leach the calcium stored in your bones. Older adults consume less calcium, which leads to leaching and the associated bone brittleness.
Sources: Milk and other dairy products are the primary source of calcium. Some specialized milk products are also fortified with more calcium. However, older adults with sensitive stomachs of lactose intolerance can find it impossible to consume these products. Dietary supplements and pills can fill the gap. Other non-dairy food sources of calcium include kale and broccoli.
Omega-3 is a fatty acid that’s labeled as an essential nutrient, meaning it’s not naturally produced by the human body. This fatty acid is known for improving brain function, as well as maintaining healthy vision and reproductive health. Omega-3 has also been known to protect older adults from diseases such as neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, joint problems like arthritis, and prevent blindness.
Sources: Fatty fish like tuna and salmon are the best sources of omega-3, but an older adult under your care can have issues that prevent them from eating these fish. Alternative sources of the nutrient include walnuts and flaxseed. It can also be found in canola oil, which you can incorporate as a salad dressing, a marinade, or a baking ingredient.
Fiber is important in maintaining the body’s healthy digestion by assisting in moving food through your stomach and intestines. This prevents gastric distress and helps older adults from feeling bloated or suffering from indigestion. Fiber also helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Sources: The primary source of fiber is whole grains, like wheat and rye. But it can also be found in vegetables, like artichokes, brussels sprouts, as well as root vegetables as carrots and turnips. These vegetables are also great sources of other vitamins and minerals, making them a great choice for any healthy menu.
Everyone needs the right amount of vitamins and minerals in their diet to function properly. This is truer for older adults. If you are caring for one, make sure their diet incorporates the vitamins listed above will help keep them healthy in their golden years.