The Latest Recommendations on Vitamins for Older Adults

Knowing the facts about vitamins for older adults, a woman holds a glass of water and the supplement she is about to take.

Understanding the latest recommendations on vitamins for older adults is crucial to optimal health and wellness.

Minerals, vitamins, and supplements—oh my! 70 percent of seniors take them; but are they really necessary as we get older? After all, a balanced and healthy diet offers older adults necessary nutrients. But there are particular instances of deficiency that may make a case for the addition of a supplement. Always check with the physician prior to making any changes, but with their recommendation or approval, consider the following vitamins for older adults:

Calcium

Aging bones are prone to breaks and fractures when calcium intake is insufficient. This is especially true for post-menopausal women, with an astounding 50 percent of those over age 50 breaking a bone as the result of osteoporosis. However, men are also in danger for serious complications from calcium deficiency. A hip fracture in men, for instance, is much more likely to be fatal than it is for women.

The best natural sources for calcium are salmon, leafy greens, broccoli, kale, and dairy products, but most women over age 50 and men over age 70 aren’t getting sufficient calcium from food alone. The National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements recommends 1,200 mg of calcium per day for women over age 51 and men over age 71, and 1,000 mg daily for men ages 51 – 70.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is calcium’s closest friend. They work most effectively when taken together to enhance not only bone health, but the nervous and immune systems and perhaps the heart as well. Sunshine is the best source for vitamin D, but aging skin along with the danger of skin cancer can create roadblocks to obtaining adequate levels.

Recommendations are 15 mcg/600 IU per day up to age 70, and 20 mcg/800 IU per day for anyone over age 71. If vitamin D supplements are advised by the doctor, they should always be taken with food for optimal absorption.

Vitamin B12

Deficiencies of vitamin B12 are not unusual in seniors, and even more so for individuals who take specific prescription drugs (especially gastric acid inhibitors or metformin). Without sufficient vitamin B12, older adults are far more at risk of developing anemia, neuropathy or nerve damage, depression, balance problems, poor memory, confusion, and dementia.

The National Institutes of Health recommends 2.4 mcg per day, which can be acquired through a diet rich in fish, clams, liver, meat, poultry, milk, eggs, and fortified cereals. And unlike other vitamins and minerals, even high doses of vitamin B12 have not been shown to cause harm, according to the NIH.

Not sure which supplements are appropriate for an older adult you love? Contact our home health experts for additional tips and resources and to learn more about the benefits of in-home health care. We are proud to offer home health and hospice services in Salt Lake City, Tooele, Ogden, and throughout Central New Mexico and Northern Utah, you can reach us any time at 1-877-I-NEED-CARE (1-877-463-3322).