If you’ve been considering taking vitamins to support your health, you’re not alone. According to a recent poll, 88 percent of people ages 65 and older take vitamins and other dietary supplements.
As we age, our caloric needs decrease, and we may eat fewer or smaller meals throughout the day. Eating less means we may not be getting the right amount of nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy. Studies show that 10-30% of seniors do not get adequate vitamins and minerals through diet alone. That’s where dietary supplements come in.
Taking daily vitamins, known as dietary supplements, is a good way to support your health, reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases, and may even help you live longer. Read on to learn more about the best vitamins for seniors.
Vitamin A is essential for maintaining vision health, supporting the immune system, and helping your organs function properly. Taking Vitamin A can help protect against age-related vision impairment and even help you see better at night. Vitamin A is involved in the production of white blood cells, which help protect the body from bacteria and other pathogens. A Vitamin A deficiency can increase your vulnerability to infections and delay your recovery when you get sick.
Vitamin B12 helps keep your nerves and red blood cells healthy. It also plays a role in cell metabolism and bone health. Vitamin B12 is also known to protect against anemia, which can make you feel fatigued and weak. Vitamin B12 also helps boost mental clarity, supports the immune system, and has a positive effect on heart health. Some seniors have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 found in food sources, which is why taking a daily supplement of this vitamin can be helpful.
If you’ve ever had a glass of orange juice when you feel a cold coming on, you likely know some of the benefits of Vitamin C. This powerful antioxidant helps protect the body from free radicals in the environment (e.g., pollution) and supports the immune system. Vitamin C supplements won’t cure a cold, but you may have milder symptoms. Vitamin C also helps the body produce collagen, which helps heal wounds and keep your skin healthy.
Because older adults are more susceptible to falls, joint pain, and osteoporosis, getting adequate amounts of vitamin D is vital. Vitamin D helps maintain bone health, as it helps the body absorb calcium. Research shows that vitamin D may also help reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and inflammation in the body. Vitamin D can also help support cognitive (brain) function, helping you focus, process information, and ward off depression.
Nearly 25% of seniors take vitamin E supplements, and for good reason. The vitamin has antioxidant properties that can help protect against certain age-related health problems, including cataracts, cancer, and heart disease. Studies show that it may also support your immune system, and reduce your risk of infectious disease. Not only that, but vitamin E has been shown to be beneficial for brain health, and that supplementing with the vitamin may protect against some neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
While not a vitamin, calcium is an essential mineral that important for your bone health. Along with vitamin D, calcium helps reduce your risk of fracture and increases bone density. In addition to keeping your bones strong, calcium helps your cells, nerves and muscles function properly. Your body can’t produce calcium on its own, which is why it’s essential to get it through the foods you eat or dietary supplements. If you don’t get enough calcium, your body will take it from your bones, making you more vulnerable to breaks.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps keep your immune system healthy and regulates your muscle and nerve function. It also plays a role in blood pressure, bone health, and regulating blood sugar levels. A magnesium deficiency is associated with poor sleep and insomnia. If you’re one of the many seniors who struggle with insomnia, magnesium may help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Before you run to the drug store to pick up some dietary supplements, talk with a healthcare provider — such as your doctor, pharmacists, or a registered dietician. They can talk with you about any potential interactions with prescription medications you are currently taking, and guide you toward the vitamins that will best support your health needs.