Vitamins and the Elderly

There is a saying that says the older one gets, the wiser one gets but when it comes to making the right food choices, this is not always the case as far as seniors are concerned. You would think that by the time people reach their golden years they would not only understand the importance of eating nutritionally balanced meals, but would also be well practiced in doing so.

However, the reality is that for a numerous reasons, elderly people quite often do not get the vitamins and minerals that their aging bodies need to fight the onset of debilitating conditions including the signs of aging.

It is a fact that as people grow older, their bodies become naturally less efficient at using nutrients. To make matters worse, the elderly generally develop more illnesses and tend to take more medications as a result. As a result, many of these medications adversely affect the way the body breaks down nutrients.

Plenty of seniors are living alone and do not feel the need or the desire to prepare nutritionally balanced meals. Add in the fact that most seniors do not indulge in moderate exercise on a regular basis and it is no wonder elderly people so frequently exhibit the symptoms of different vitamin deficiencies. Even by today’s standards, there are still a good percentage of seniors are considered to be undernourished.

Vitamin D is as important to the elderly as it is to children. It plays a vital role in the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which is required to keep bones healthy. With little or no calcium, bones can lose their mass and become brittle and bring about osteoporosis. Very few elderly people consume the proper amount of dairy products to ensure that their body gets ample amounts of vitamin D.

Another serious condition confronting seniors is the oxidation damage caused by free radicals. These are unstable molecules that, when left on their own, run rampant throughout the body, destroying healthy cells. Oxidation is the same process that causes rust to develop on cars.

Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals, a process which inhibits the amount of damage they cause. The best sources of antitoxidants are fruits and vegetables. They also contain beta carotenes and a number of other important vitamins such as Vitamin A, C and E, yet few seniors consume the required amounts.

As healthy cells become damaged, seniors increase their risks of developing heart disease, arthritis, certain forms of cancers, cataracts, Parkinson’s disease and many other disorders. Antioxidants also keep the immune system functioning properly. As healthy skin cells break down, skin loses its elasticity and begins to sag, wrinkle and look older.

The body needs Vitamin K to keep the body’s blood clotting mechanism functioning properly, yet once again, few seniors get enough. The absence of Vitamin K is believed to also be linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

The list of conditions that result from vitamin deficiencies is long. Everyone, regardless of age, needs to understand the importance of giving their bodies nutrients in order to maintain good health.

If you are not getting the right mix of nutrients from your diet, regardless of the reason, it may be necessary to supplement your diet by taking daily multi vitamin supplements. For the most benefit, choose one that has been formulated to suit the changing dietary needs of older individuals. For more information go to

Please contact us at Home Instead Senior Care for more information on our highly trained CAREGivers that can help you with non-medical needs.  Our office number is 360-782-4663.

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