Best Vitamins For Seniors
Table of Contents
As we age, our bodies naturally change and require different things in order to stay healthy.
While there are many things to consider when it comes to taking care of ourselves as we get older, one important aspect is making sure to take the right vitamins.
Here are some of the best vitamins for seniors!
- Taking a vitamin supplement is a good idea if you know your diet has a few nutritional gaps – it’s hard to eat a perfectly balanced diet!
- There are 11 key vitamins and minerals that all seniors should regularly consume, whether through their diet, individual vitamin and mineral supplements, or a multivitamin.
- Talk to your doctor about the best vitamins for seniors – only a medical professional can determine the right vitamins for your lifestyle, medical condition, health, and needs.
Why Do Seniors Need to Take Vitamin Supplements?
Technically, not all seniors need to take dietary supplements. If you eat a well-balanced diet and don’t have any medical conditions, there might not be a good enough reason to shell out the extra cash on vitamin or mineral supplements.
However, the number of older adults who eat a perfectly balanced diet are certainly in the minority. Not only that, but side effects of medications, a decrease in bone health as we age, and even blood sugar problems can make taking vitamin supplements a wise choice. If you have dietary restrictions – like if you’re a vegan – supplementing is a good idea, too, to make sure you’re getting everything you need.
The goal, always, should be to eat a well-balanced diet. However, nobody is perfect! Senior vitamins can help fill in the gaps and make it easier for your body to function as it should.
11 Best Vitamins for Seniors
Curious about which vitamins are the best vitamins for older people? Here are some of the most important vitamins (and minerals!) you should be supplementing to make sure you’re meeting your nutritional needs – particularly if you aren’t getting enough of the foods that naturally contain them in your diet.
1. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is one of many critical B vitamins helps your body form red blood cells while also promoting nerve function. As you get older, your stomach lining naturally things, making it harder for your body to absorb this crucial nutrient from the food you eat.
Natural Sources of B12 in Food:
- Meat and other animal products
- Seeds and nuts
- Fortified breakfast cereals and grains
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D3 is necessary for all of us – but as you get older, it’s a nutrient that becomes even more critical to your health. It helps your body absorb calcium and improves your bone health. It can help maintain your muscle mass, too.
While there are some foods that contain vitamin D, either naturally or through the fortification process, it is difficult for your body to absorb the vitamin D found in food. Your skin can also absorb vitamin D through the sun, but this, too, can be a challenge. Supplementation can help.
Natural Sources of D in Food:
- Fatty fish (like salmon)
- Egg yolks
- Fortified milk
- Fortified cereals and other grains
3. Vitamin B6
Another B vitamin that you’ll want to add to your diet is vitamin B6. This vitamin, also known as pyridoxine, helps your brain and nerve cells communicate with each other. It plays an important role in metabolic, immune, and overall brain function, too.
Supplementation with vitamin B6 is often used to address arthritis, diabetes, memory loss, and other issues. Most importantly, supplementing with vitamin B6 can help ward off anemia, especially when taken with other supplements like iron.
Natural Sources of B6 in Food:
- Beef liver
- Salmon And tuna
- Green leafy vegetables
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one that plays a key role in immune system health and metabolism. It can prevent cataracts and reduce vision loss, according to the American Optometric Association, two conditions commonly associated with aging.
You can only get vitamin C from outside sources. Supplementing is a great way to help add more vitamin C to your diet.
Natural Sources of C in Food:
- Winter squash
Calcium is a crucial nutrient for bone health – when you suffer from a calcium deficiency, it can lead to bone diseases like osteoporosis and brittle bones.
Individuals who are 50 and older should take a calcium supplement, according to AARP. The amounts vary – men should have 1000 milligrams per day while women should consume about 1200.
Natural Sources of Calcium in Food:
- Fortified fruit juice
- Leafy greens (such as kale)
- Dairy products
6. Omega Fatty Acids
Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are healthy fats that play a role in vision, energy, and joint function. The three main types of omega fatty acids include EPA, ALA, and DHA. They can not only help reduce pain and related symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, according to this study, but may even slow the progression of macular degeneration.
Natural Sources of Omega Fatty Acids in Food:
- Fish and other seafood (particularly cold-water fatty fish like salmon)
- Seeds and nuts
- Plant oils
7. Coenzyme Q10
Also known as CoQ10, this vitamin is actually an antioxidant that is produced in the liver. As you get older, your liver becomes less efficient at producing it – and low levels have been associated with heart disease.
Natural Sources of CoQ10 in Food:
- Organ meats
- Fatty fish
- Spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower
- Sesame seeds
8. Vitamin B9
Also known as folate, vitamin B9 has been shown in many studies to slow or even prevent memory loss in adults over 60. It helps to convert carbohydrates into energy, something that’s critical for aging adults. There are some studies that suggest it can help control and prevent stroke, heart disease, and cancer, too.
Natural Sources of B9 in Food:
- Dark leafy greens
- Whole grains
- Sunflower seeds
Magnesium has all kinds of benefits and it can be found in many forms. Some forms, like magnesium threonate, offer cognitive benefits like preventing cognitive decline, while others, like magnesium citrate, improve digestive functioning.
Most magnesium is also good for your muscles and balances your blood sugar levels. An unhealthy diet as well as the regular use of certain drugs, like proton pump inhibitors, can rapidly deplete levels of magnesium in your body, so supplementation is wise for many people.
Natural Sources of Magnesium in Food:
- Whole grains
- Seeds and nuts
- Leafy greens
Potassium is an essential nutrient for any person, helping to strengthen the heart, nervous system, and kidney. Women need around 2,600 milligrams per day while men need about 3,400 milligrams.
Natural Sources of Potassium in Food:
- Fish, poultry, and meat
Think you need many of the vitamins and minerals listed above supplemented in your diet? In that case, you may want to consider taking a multivitamin. Check the label on the multivitamin you select to make sure it includes all of the individual nutrients you need.
In addition to the essential nutrients listed above, the best multivitamin will also contain other nutrients you need for proper nutrition, like vitamin E.
Multivitamins can provide extra nutrients where you need them and boost your energy levels. However, it’s important to note that multivitamins don’t necessarily prevent all diseases and can have undesired side effects, particularly when taken improperly (these include things like headaches, vomiting, and nausea).
Therefore, if you’re planning on taking a multivitamin or any of the other vitamins listed above, it’s important to consult with your doctor first to get an idea of which solutions might be best for you.
How to Choose the Right Vitamins for Seniors
When shopping for multivitamins, it’s important to recognize that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve or regulate supplements like multivitamins for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. Unlike food, vitamins just aren’t as strictly monitored.
However, there are independent organizations that set standards for the manufacturing and sale of multivitamins, including the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Both of these groups ensure that there aren’t any harmful ingredients in the vitamins (such as heavy metals) and that vitamin daily values and amounts are correct.
Look for a vitamin – whether it’s an individual supplement or a multivitamin – that includes a safety label verified by one of these organizations. Don’t fall for marketing tricks – many times, multivitamins are marketed specifically “for seniors” but are actually no different than any other options on the shelf. They are just more expensive!
Of course, if you’re not sure which vitamins to take or even if you’re getting enough nutrients from your food, you should talk to your doctor.
They will be able to suggest specific foods that you can add to your diet (remember, diet and a healthy lifestyle are the best way to protect yourself) – and recommend multivitamins that may help fill in the gaps. They may also do a blood test to help identify any health problems that can be addressed with a daily vitamin.
The Bottom Line
Supplementing with nutritional supplements is a great decision to improve your general health, especially if you’re a senior. The best vitamins for seniors may not make you live forever – but they can dramatically improve your health and your quality of life.
Of course, eat a healthy diet and do your best to include all food groups to prevent most health conditions. Then, be sure to talk to your doctor about the best options for you!