We have all heard SO many times that we — our senior loved ones and us — should be eating a variety of the right foods each day to be sure to get the nutrients needed to stay healthy.
Unfortunately, as we know all too well, this is not always the case for a variety of reasons, some as simple as the our chosen food preferences or the decreased intake that many experience in older years. For too many, nutritional deficiencies are a matter of economics, resulting from trade-offs that are made in order to cover expenses.
Your senior may need additional sources of essential nutrients in the form of supplements.
Common Supplements for Seniors and Reasons to Take Them
- Vitamin E – this antioxidant vitamin helps protect cells from damage. Caution if you are taking a blood thinner since this may increase bleeding risk.
- Vitamin C – essential for growth and repair of tissues especially during healing, it may shorten your cold but no evidence that it prevents one at this time.
- Vitamin B12 – helps keep your blood cells and nerves in good health, difficult for seniors to absorb B12 from foods which could lead to balance problems/falls.
- Vitamin D – helps you absorb calcium for strong bones and teeth.
- Calcium – builds and maintains strong bones and teeth, helps with blood clotting too.
- Vitamin K – helps your blood clot and also works to keep your bones strong. Caution if you take blood thinners.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – helps with blood clotting and muscle function. Has shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and second heart attacks but may interact with your blood thinner.
- Potassium – helps control blood pressure, essential for heart and kidney function; together with sodium it maintains your body’s fluid balance.
- Magnesium – helps keep your immune system strong, regulates heart rhythm, and may help decrease high blood pressure for women.
- Vitamin B6 – helps create red blood cells and strengthen your immune system, caution in high doses as it may cause damage to nerves resulting in trouble walking.
- Folic acid – helps red blood cells, folate is the form in food, and caution high levels may mask a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Selenium – helps prevent cell damage, may reduce risk of cancer.
Don’t forget to check with your senior’s doctor before they take anything which may interfere or cause harm when taking prescription medications. Always purchase supplements from a trusted source because nutritional supplements are unregulated and may not contain what you think, which could be a waste of money but worse a risk to your health.
Never stop taking a doctor prescribed medication on your own because you think a supplement can replace it. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor or registered dietitian. Take supplements according to recommended amounts because too much of a vitamin or mineral can lead to negative side effects and toxicity. Remember to store vitamins and supplements safely up and out of the reach of curious grandchildren.
Remember that supplements should be just one part of a healthy lifestyle approach, one that includes a healthy diet and staying active.
Do you have more nutrition questions? We would love to help bring you the answers you need – so ASK AWAY!