Essential Vitamins for Seniors
Seniors have unique vitamin demands. Often, they need vitamins and minerals even more than they did in their youth. This is because as our bodies age, we become less efficient at utilizing the essential nutrients our bodies do receive.
Because of this, some vitamins become more important in our later years. Let's look at some of the key vitamins that seniors need.
One primary concern to seniors should be the B vitamins. About 30% of seniors lose their ability to produce stomach acid, which diminishes the ability to absorb vitamin B-12 and folic acid. Low levels of these and vitamin B-6 may result in neurological changes like a decline in alertness, and memory loss. Vitamin B-2, also called riboflavin, helps release energy from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Often referred to as the sunlight vitamin, Vitamin D is actually a hormone, not a vitamin. The body must manufacture it. Your body produces Vitamin D when you are in the sunshine. Those who are out in the sun during the day tend to sleep better at night. It also helps to strengthen the immune system. The elderly don't usually get enough Vitamin D. Those between the age of 50 and 70 need 400 IU (international units) of it per day. If you're over 70, bump that up to 600 IU per day. When you increase your intake vitamin D, you will decrease the chances of getting sick and also increase the effectiveness of Vitamin C. Cholesterol can also be converted to vitamin D in our body and used for the calcification of bones and teeth.
Vitamin E is vital to good senior health. This is a fat-soluble vitamin that has strong antioxidant properties which prevent fatty acids oxidizing in the membranes of your cells. It also slows the aging process. Bob Hope even gave vitamin E credit for helping him to live such a long life! The recommended daily allowance of international units (IU) for adults is 22 IU, or about 15 mgs.
Vitamin E has been used as the elixir of youth in nutrients, primarily because it makes the cell more resistant to oxidation and also has properties that help retard aging in the body. Many use it on their skin due to its ability to improve elasticity. Eating foods with this vitamin help the body gain what people seek with their skin, a level of resilience and longevity.
Seniors often lack Vitamin K. It is perhaps one of the most commonly overlooked vitamins. Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and helps to maintain and even improve bone density. It can play a key role in preventing osteoporosis. As seniors are facing realities that in elder years of their life, there are many new challenges, including having more brittle bones. This does not have to be the case, as Vitamin K has been shown to enhance density in bones and to also minimize the chances of damage in the bones themselves.
More good news is that Alzheimer's disease and Vitamin K studies have shown a common link. Vitamin K levels are lower in carriers of the APOE4 gene, the gene that is a risk factor in Alzheimer's. Though not an antioxidant per se, it does prevent cell death. RDA for Vitamin K is 120 micrograms per day for senior men, 90 micrograms for senior women. Vitamin K was only recognized in the mid to late 1930's and it is thought that deficiencies of this blood-clotting vitamin are thought to be rare because of the food sources available. The best sources of vitamin K are liver, green leafy vegetables and members of the cabbage family. Since vitamin K is also produced by bacteria in the intestines, humans are not dependent upon diet for this nutrient. Yet as older individuals have reportedly less circulating vitamin K than younger individuals.
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