While modern medicine has made living with disease bearable, it has not been able to replace nutrition.
Have you heard a senior say, “I just don’t have the energy I used to…?” They are not lying to you. They probably do not. Do you know why?
Since the dawn of civilization, nutrition has been the single best way to sustain health. Even more, nutrition has been and continues to be the best method of combating disease.
As we age, poor habits from our younger years begin to affect the body more profoundly.
Specifically, poor nutrition brought on by a life lived on to the go, results in a senior unable to go. However, there is hope and there remains the best solution – nutrition.
Read this blog article to explore the use of supplementation for seniors. We will examine the best vitamins to supplement a healthy diet.
So often, people attempt to use supplements as a replacement. This is wrong and will only disappoint you.
Supplements are meant to support proper nutrition, fill in gaps due to lack of proper food availability or reduction in food potency.
So, let’s examine supplementation that will allow seniors to reap great results.
THE CASE FOR SUPPLEMENTATION
The aging process comes with its share of challenges, even in residential assisted living homes, but those challenges are exacerbated, if not complicated, by poor nutrition.
The deficits caused by poor nutrition are numerous, but the most profound result in:
- Cognitive Decline
- Poor Vision
- Compromised Bone Health
While these challenges do emerge, the goal of aging remains unchanged: staying active throughout life.
In order to reach this goal, nutrition must be front and center.
As we age, it is critically important to consume the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals to sustain strength.
Therefore, dietary supplements can be added to support good nutrition. By doing so, maintaining an active lifestyle is not a dream.
It’s a reality.
Determining nutritional deficits is an easy feat. Simply have your geriatrician run a comprehensive blood panel.
Any deficits in nutrition will be detected by these tests. Here begins the journey of nutritional gap closing.
It’s fun, relatively easy, nominal in cost, and so beneficial.
SOME COMMON CAUSES OF VITAMIN DEFICIENCY
If poor nutrition has been a chronic condition throughout one’s younger years, disease and disorder will result in the senior years.
The statement is curt, but true.
Poor nutrition is the root of so many disease processes in the body, which wreak havoc on a senior.
However, this harsh reality is only compounded by the treatments often given to fight disease. Many of these treatments:
- Reduce Appetite
- Prevent Absorption
- Restrict Enzymatic Processes
Meals prepared in residential assisted living homes typically provide measured portions and proper amounts of nutrition.
If poor nutrition has been a reality prior to transitioning into assisted living, dental health will certainly become a challenge.
In many seniors, dental health precludes their ability to consume foods rich in necessary vitamins and minerals.
These dental conditions include:
- Gum Disease
- Deteriorated Teeth
- Tooth Extractions
- Root Canals
The above are all challenges poor nutrition had a root in causing. Nonetheless, a good geriatric dentist will be able to get them resolved.
However, it remains the senior’s chief goal to maintain the extensive work done by their dentist.
THE 7 BEST VITAMINS FOR SENIORS
Here is some good news: not all seniors require supplementation. Many seniors eat well-balanced diets consisting of:
- Plenty of Green Leafy Vegetables
- Fresh Berries of all Sorts
- Apples of all Sorts
- Citrus Fruits when in Season
- Good Sources of Fat: Avocados, Olives, Coconut Oil, Walnuts, Almonds, Pecans, Macadamia
- Good Meat Sources: Fish, Chicken, Turkey, Lean Beef, Beans
However, the converse is equally true. Many seniors are unable to consume sufficient vitamins and minerals to maintain active living.
Disease such a diabetes type II can make it difficult to consume proper amounts of vitamins due to irregularities in blood sugar.
Osteoporosis is common due to a need for calcium, which needs other vitamins present in order for the body to absorb it properly.
Therefore, supplements must be introduced in order to thwart the continued negative health effects exacerbated by disease.
Below you will find the seven most common vitamins needed to address deficiencies in the senior. Be sure to get the comprehensive blood panels drawn so that you may address the deficiencies properly.
This should not be a guessing game for seniors living in assisted living homes.
The wrong answer can cause them to become ill and possibly require hospitalization.
A multivitamin is a great place to start. While many have railed on them in recent years, multivitamins come packed with nutrients which create the enzymatic processes necessary for absorbing vitamins properly.
A good high-quality multivitamin is essential.
The amount of each vitamin and mineral varies and will certainly not be sufficient for sustaining activity.
However, remember this is a supplement, not a replacement. Nothing replaces good nutrition.
These are meal replacements and supplementation work very well. A typical daily multivitamin will include the following:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K – potassium
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B (may include various types)
- Folic Acid
The presence of these vitamins with proper nutrition reaps great rewards. You will find your senior becoming more active, aware, and engaged.
Proper nutrition is proven to cause a reduction in medication intake, if not the cessation of some medications.
Disease processes, including diabetes, can be treated with diet and exercise. So, get your senior a high-quality multivitamin today.
Take it with food, too.
While a high-quality multivitamin provides good support, it is not ideal to address specific medical concerns and red flags that arise in the senior.
Based upon the blood work performed, the deficits will more than likely be too much for a mere multi-vitamin to address.
2. Vitamin D
In seniors, Vitamin D seems to be in short supply, which means many Baby Boomers have been living with below levels of Vitamin D for much of their adult life. What’s the result of this?
- Osteoporosis (poor skeletal health, brittle bones)
- Cardiovascular Disease (High Blood Pressure)
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Cognitive Decline (including dementia)
Vitamin D is critical to overall functionality in the body. Researchers have even found by treating Vitamin D deficits, the body was able to absorb other vital nutrients with ease.
Chief among these nutrients is Calcium.
Therefore, it seems Vitamin D, which is naturally absorbed from sun exposure, is vital to overall human health.
If being in the sun for lengthy periods of time is unrealistic or possibly unhealthy, supplementation is necessary.
The following foods are rich in Vitamin D:
- High-quality Breakfast Cereals
- Milk (Even non-dairy options)
- Fatty Fish (Salmon)
If access to these foods is prohibited, then supplement the senior’s diet with a high-quality Vitamin D3.
Vitamin D3 comes in capsule form, but it is also available in liquid drops as well.
Therefore, if your senior loves smoothies, add the prescribed number of drops to their smoothie for greater nutrition and overall health.
3. B Vitamins
Have you heard a senior say, “I just don’t have the energy I used to…” They are not lying to you. They probably do not. Why?
As the body ages, absorbing B Vitamins become a challenge, especially B12 and B6. This reality is compounded by a reduction in stomach acid, which helps break food down efficiently making B-vitamins readily available for absorption.
Supplementation with B-vitamins is essential to health and should include:
B-vitamins are more than energy boosters, though. That is a byproduct of what they really do to support health. B-vitamins are essential to:
- Proper Nerve Function
- Heart Health
- Blood Pressure
- Brain Function
- Sexual Health
If B-vitamins emerge as deficient in your senior’s blood work, begin supplementation immediately. Usually, 2.4 mcg is sufficient. B-vitamins are abundant in:
- Leafy Green Vegetables
As you can see above, there are multiple sources. However, one of the best and most efficient is a smoothie. Also, it will not hurt to add whichever of the B-vitamins, if not all, based upon bloodwork to the smoothie in liquid form.
This way absorption will not be inhibited, and health will be secured.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is critical to health and wellness in a senior. Immune and metabolic health are supported by Vitamin C.
The American Optometric Association has stated Vitamin C may prevent cataracts and loss of vision common with age-related macular degeneration.
The human body does not produce Vitamin C.
It is only obtained from outside sources. Therefore, if poor nutrition has been the norm, Vitamin C deficiency is more than likely a reality.
Food rich in Vitamin C include:
- Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower
- Green and Red Peppers
- Sweet and White Potatoes
- Winter Squash
It is recommended that a senior get between 75 – 90 mgs of Vitamin C daily. As with other supplements, Vitamin C may be added to a smoothie in liquid form or taken via capsule or pill.
Honestly, calcium is major. It is a big deal. It is a vital mineral that is essential to so many bodily functions. It is essential to healthy aging and deficiencies of it lead to poor bone health.
Many seniors, namely women, suffer from brittle bones.
This disease process, osteoporosis, is debilitating and deadly. Typically, osteoporosis becomes evident after menopause due to multiple reasons associated with the change in a woman’s body.
While women seem to suffer greatly, men are no exception.
Aging men develop brittle bones as well, but due to great muscle mass tend not to suffer as women do.
Foods rich in calcium include:
- Sesame Seeds
- Beef Liver
As with the aforementioned, nothing a good smoothie cannot solve. It is recommended women receive upwards of 1,200 mgs of calcium daily, while men should receive approximately 1,000 mgs.
Supplementation can be given in liquid or pill form.
Calcium should be consumed with food so that the proper enzymatic reactions can take place ensuring its absorption and not causing your senior to have constipation.
6. Omega Fatty Acids
Fat is good for the body. It is the source of energy the body prefers. Sure, the body will use carbohydrates, but it prefers fats because they burn more efficiently and last for longer periods of time.
Omega 3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are healthy fats that play a role in energy, healthy vision, and smooth joint function.
Three types of omega fatty acids exist. The body needs all three, however, based upon bloodwork the deficiency may be more profound in one as opposed to the other.
The three types include:
- DHA – essential to brain function, skin, and retina.
- EPA – essential to heart health.
- ALA – also essential to heart health; specifically, aiding recovery of heart disease.
In general, Omega 3s are phenomenal in reducing pain due to rheumatoid arthritis, decreasing the progression of macular degeneration, and soothing joint pain.
These conditions are common in many older adults and supplementation with these fatty acids is crucial to maintaining or recovering an active lifestyle.
Omega Fatty Acids are found plenteous in many foods such as:
- Cold Water Fish
Depending upon the condition of the senior, consuming Omega Fatty Acids daily may be best, but certainly at least two servings of cold-water fish weekly is ideal.
Supplementation may be taken in a capsule or via a liquid solution, which thanks to scientific advancement is now tasteless.
Adding Omega Fatty Acids to a smoothie will make the smoothie a meal replacement.
7. Coenzyme Q10
Also known as Coq10, this antioxidant is naturally produced in the liver. However, the aging process can reduce liver functionality making the antioxidant less available.
Unfortunately, Coq10 is not readily available in food sources. It is essential because of the effects it has on heart disease, Parkinson’s Disease and overall immunity.
Supplementation is essential if health and active living are to be sustained. A senior might best benefit from 100 – 200 mgs daily.
Again, these ranges are generalizations. Your senior’s blood work will determine how much needs to be supplemented. Get that bloodwork done, today.
HOW TO PICK THE BEST VITAMINS FOR SENIORS?
This is not simple, but not impossible. You need only know the facts. It is important to understand how supplements are produced, where they are produced, and the contents associated with their production.
In other words, you need to find supplements produced in a certified facility, near the sources important for production, with as few inert ingredients as possible.
While the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate supplement companies, they are not left wholly to their own good will.
Seek supplements that have third-party verifications. For instance, the USP-verified certification indicates that the supplement contains the ingredients listed on the label without other harmful substances.
Many of these inert substances are included to extend shelf life, but that does not translate to extending the life of a senior.
Therefore, be sure to find USP verified supplements.
Also, companies do make supplements formulated for seniors. Many of these supplements are contained in smaller capsules for easier swallowing, as well as liquids. Some come in gummy form, which is delightful.
When a reliable company is found, consider a subscription service. Make this decision based on the needs of the senior. Consider subscribing to a service that can offer exactly what is needed and what may be needed.
Most importantly, make changes to the diet that support proper and optimal nutrition. If eating whole food is a challenge, which is the reality for many seniors, start making tasty smoothies.
Adding needed supplements to smoothies makes for a very nutritious eating experience with lasting effects.
KEEP SENIORS HEALTHY WITH THE PROPER NUTRITION
Staying healthy and active as we age is not an impossibility. Aging does not need to translate as malnourishment, reduced activity and sickness.
While this may be the reality for many seniors it does not have to be so with you or your seniors. The best way to stay active is proper nutrition.
The first line of defense against disease for a healthy lifestyle is proper nutrition.
The single best way to age gracefully is with nutrition.
Therefore, make sure your diet is a nutritious one supplemented with vitamins that support health in order to curve the negative effects of aging.
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