Vitamins are among the most essential nutrients your body needs to survive. They help you maintain strong bones, heal wounds, convert food into energy, boost your immune system, and more. While some people can get all the vitamins they need from their diet, this may not be possible for everyone. Others may have difficulty planning such a complete diet. This is one of many factors that has contributed to the popularity of dietary supplements. Vitamin/mineral supplements are the most popular of these, and they can be a great alternative if you aren’t meeting all your health needs through diet alone.
As you age, you generally need fewer calories, and you may stop eating as much as you used to. Unfortunately, your nutritional needs generally remain as high as they ever were. You may even need more of certain nutrients as you get older. For example, getting plenty of protein can help reduce muscle loss, and eating more fiber can reduce constipation, which is a common problem in many aging people. You may need to alter some behaviors to get all the vitamins you need as well. Here are some of the most important ones to keep in mind while aging.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning you’ll need more than just water for your body to absorb it properly. As the name implies, these vitamins are absorbed in fat, so they should be taken with meals including fatty foods. Vitamin D is rarely found in food, although milk and dairy products are considered good sources of it. It can also be obtained through sunlight and vitamin supplements. It has a couple of important roles in the body, including boosting the immune system. Its main role, however, is helping your body absorb calcium, which is used by nearly every part of your body. Most notably, calcium helps build and maintain strong bones, which are in danger of becoming brittle as you age.
A deficiency of vitamin D can lead to higher risks of bone fractures, weakened muscles, fatigue, and even depression. While it is extremely rare to have too much calcium in your blood, consequences can include damage to the heart and kidneys, high blood pressure, and weight loss. It’s important to only take the daily recommended amounts of vitamins and nutrients.
This is among the most common vitamins to be recommended as a supplement, especially for those over 50. It’s water-soluble and can be found in a variety of foods, so it’s easy to take into the body. B12 is important to promote the formation of red blood cells, and it also plays a role in nerve function and the production of DNA. B12 is present in many meats and dairy products, so extreme deficiencies tend to be rare. Even so, deficiency symptoms can include poor balance, fatigue, numbness, and memory issues. Deficiencies are often treated with shots of the vitamin followed by supplements. Your body doesn’t store B12 for long, so you’ll need to take more on a regular basis.
While not strictly vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for cardiovascular health and become even more important as you get older due to the increased risks of heart disease associated with aging. Omega-3 can be found primarily in foods like fish and shellfish, as well as some plants. Omega-3 supplements are common, and these fatty acids help with functions like muscle development, blood clotting, and cell growth. They can also lower cholesterol and blood pressure, making them great tools to battle heart disease. Signs of Omega-3 deficiencies can include dry skin and hair, joint discomfort, and mood swings.
Of course, there are plenty of other nutrients you’ll need to keep up with as well including Magnesium and Zinc. Visit your doctor to make sure you’re meeting all your nutritional needs.