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Important Nutrients That Can Help With Senior Aging

Murphy’s Law

Aging and nutrition. Just when our older bodies need more high-quality nutrients to repair themselves and recover from illness, they’re less capable of obtaining those nutrients. Many factors related to aging can affect our ability to get the nutrition we need. Lack of appetite, for instance, can keep us from eating the foods we know are good for us. A diminishing sense of taste or smell can have the same effect. The dental problems that often accompany aging teeth can make eating difficult at times and can also affect digestion.

Absorption problems also affect older people. Many essential vitamins — B-12 in particular — simply are no longer absorbed as efficiently from our foods as they once were. Some of the medications we need to take can affect how we absorb nutrients, as well. For example, the proton pump inhibitors that many older people take for heartburn can, according to the National Institutes of Health, lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis, presumably because these medications influence how our bodies absorb calcium from food.

What can you do?

In the face of these challenges, you may be wondering if there is a way to ensure that you get all of the nutrients your body needs. There is. By eating right and discussing the possibility of supplementation with your doctor, you can ensure that your body gets all of the essential nutrients it needs to stay active and vital as you age. Here are the most important nutrients for older adults, and how you can add them to your diet:

Fiber: Just as our bodies slow down in other ways, so does our digestion. Fiber can help regulate your digestive system, keeping it moving smoothly. Even more importantly, fiber can, according to Help Guide,  give your immune system a boost, improve your complexion, help you maintain a healthy weight and even lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Women over the age of 50 should try to include at least 21 grams of fiber daily, while men in that age group should aim for 30 grams. Whole grain breads and cereals are a great way to get the fiber you need, as are high-fiber fruits like apples, bananas, raspberries and mangoes.


Vitamin B-12: B-12 is essential to the proper functioning of our nervous system. The symptoms of a B-12 deficiency include slurred speech, a stumbling gait, memory problems and tremors. Some doctors mistake these symptoms for the normal signs of aging. B-12 is found mainly in meat, fish and dairy products. Unfortunately, as we get older, we can no longer get all the B-12 we need from our diets and supplementation may be necessary.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because our skin manufactures it when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D keeps our bones strong and helps stave off depression, lowers risk of heart disease and regulates blood pressure. Staying indoors, however, and even using sunscreen can affect your body’s abilities to manufacture all the vitamin D you need. Your doctor can now do a blood test to find out if you have a vitamin D deficiency. If you do, he/she might recommend adding fish such as salmon, tuna or mackerel, to your diet, or considering taking a vitamin D supplement.

an Asian woman chef preparing salmon piece with sharp knife

Calcium and magnesium: Osteoporosis is a very real concern for many older adults. While it mainly affects older women, it can also affect men and lead to bone fractures. One way to keep your bones strong is to get enough calcium and magnesium in your diet. These two minerals work together to maintain and repair your bones. Good sources of calcium include milk, yogurt and cheese, as well as leafy green vegetables, seafood and beans. Magnesium is also found in leafy green vegetables as well as in avocados, dried fruit and dark chocolate.

Talk with your doctor

Always check with your doctor or pharmacist first when adding dietary supplements to your routine or when making major changes to your diet. Some foods and dietary supplements can have serious, adverse side effects when combined with certain prescription medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether or not any of the foods or supplements you are considering using could have side effects when combined with your regular medications.

To learn more visit Alliance Homecare.

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  • About Michele Teter:

    Michele Teter is a founder of Alliance Homecare and now works as the Director of Patient Services. Her focus is to provide the highest level of specialized healthcare to each client.