Nothing can take the place of a healthy diet to give you the vitamins and minerals your body needs. However, as you get older you might find that you’ll benefit from a supplement, especially if you’re not getting what you need from your diet.
When taking vitamins though, don’t forget you don’t need to take more than the daily recommended dosage, taking more than you need might be harmful. Vitamins for older people to consider are:
The sunlight vitamin is one the body naturally absorbs from the sun. Seniors who don’t leave the house much, or live in a part of the UK that’s short on sunshine will find it difficult to get it from being outside. You can eat foods like eggs, fish and yogurt which will give you vitamin D, or you can take a supplement of a tablet a day to keep your immune system healthy.
Vitamin B helps to form red blood cells, it is good for your nervous system and helps to give you healthy eyes and skin.
You can get vitamin B from milk, cheese, eggs and meat. A supplement will help to guard against anaemia and make sure your energy levels don’t get too low.
Vitamin C is present in fruit such as oranges, strawberries, Kiwi and blackcurrants, as well as vegetables such as broccoli, potatoes and peppers.
If you don’t think you have enough vitamin C in your diet, take a low dose supplement to help your immune system and keep your bones and teeth healthy. Don’t take too much though as it will give you stomach pains or diarrhoea.
Elderly people sometimes don’t absorb the amount of vitamin B12 that they need for a healthy nervous system. You can find it in foods such as milk, eggs, fish and poultry. Deficiency in B12 might mean that you are losing weight, feel tired or suffer from constipation.
This vitamin helps to keep the liver, hair, eyes and skin healthy. If you eat chicken, eggs and fish you will get vitamin B6 from food, but if you’re not eating enough then a supplement may be of benefit to you.
Research by the University of Aberdeen Medical School shows that folic acid helps to cut the risk of heart disease and strokes in the elderly. You can get it from green leafy vegetables such as spinach, it’s also in broccoli, liver, wholegrain cereals and citrus fruits. If you don’t feel you are getting enough folic acid, you can take a tablet as a supplement.
Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth, but taking too much can upset your stomach. It is best to get calcium from milk, cheese, sardines, green leafy vegetables and yogurt.
Your doctor might recommend you take a calcium supplement if you are housebound and don’t move around much, or you are unsteady on your feet and there is a risk that you could fall.
Iron is a mineral used to carry oxygen to our blood cells. An iron deficiency might make you feel fatigued or dizzy. You can get it from food by eating red meat, green leafy vegetables, nuts, grains and pulses.
If you think you have an iron deficiency, you should see your doctor before you take iron supplements as your symptoms might also be a sign of another health problem.
If you eat foods that contain plenty of vitamins, protein and minerals, you should be getting all the nutrients you need in your diet. Try to include milk, eggs, bread, fruit, vegetables and cereals as well as meat and fish in your diet. However, if you feel you need a boost, see your doctor and talk to him or her about your vitamin and mineral intake.