How Nutrition Changes With Age
Most people know that a balanced diet is important to stay healthy and strong. But what many people don’t know is that nutritional needs can change as individuals age. What a baby needs to maintain proper nutritional levels is not the same as a middle-aged adult or a senior. Senior malnutrition is a serious problem that can impact bone and muscle mass loss. How can older adults safeguard nutrition, and how can supplements help fill in any gaps?
Vitamin B12 to preserve mental acuity
Cognitive decline is one of the biggest concerns associated with growing older. While seniors can engage in daily activities to maintain mental sharpness, paying attention to dietary intake can also help safeguard memory and cognition. Specifically, vitamin B12 is a key nutrient that supports the brain and nervous system. One study found that vitamin B12 deficiency in older adults can be linked with a higher risk of dementia. While consuming foods high in vitamin B12 is the best option, supplements can help seniors who don’t get enough from a daily diet.
Calcium for bone and muscle health
Seniors are often at a greater risk of falling due to bone loss. Bone loss is especially common among women ages 50 and older because of menopause. So, as a person ages, nutritional goals should center around improving the consumption of key vitamins and nutrients that help maintain healthy bones and muscles. Specifically for seniors, a concern is that when people don’t eat enough nutrients, the body leaches whatever is needed from the bones. For example, calcium is a critical nutrient to protect bone health. But if daily meals don’t contain enough calcium, the body takes what’s needed from the bones and increases the risk of brittle bones or fractures.
Vitamin D for a stronger immune system
No one wants to get sick, but for many seniors, catching a virus like the cold or flu can be catastrophic and seniors often take longer to recover. Vitamin D has been proven through research to be effective at boosting immunity. Not only can the vitamin help reduce the chances of catching a respiratory illness, but vitamin D can also decrease the risk of contracting more serious chronic illnesses like heart disease or multiple sclerosis.
Potassium for whole-body support
Most people know that bananas are rich in potassium. But what’s lesser-known is that the nutrient is essential for many bodily functions. Potassium has been linked with reducing the risk of stroke, lowering blood pressure, preventing muscle mass loss, and maintaining bone mineral density. The nutrient has also been confirmed to reduce the risk of kidney stone formation and maintaining energy. For seniors concerned about heart health, potassium supplements may be a smart item to incorporate into a daily routine.
Supplements or diet?
Without a doubt, experts agree that the best way to get key nutrients is through eating a balanced diet that prioritizes healthy foods rich in vitamins and minerals that the body needs. But for many seniors, limited income, a lack of appetite, or even decreased mobility can make shopping for groceries or cooking healthy meals harder. Before selecting a supplement, seniors should speak with a physician to confirm which vitamins and nutrients should be prioritized, and which supplement is best.