The best way to get the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you need is to start with good, wholesome, whole, real food – the very best quality you can afford. Of course growing your own is first prize (organically) but if you can’t do the best you can. Older people sometimes struggle to stick to a healthy diet for many reasons including:
• Lack of appetite
• Trouble chewing
• Fixed budget
• Trouble finding healthy food
• Inability to drive/get around to find good food
Supplements are a valid option here and can fill in the gaps in your diet.
How Vitamins Can Help
Older adults have different needs when it comes to vitamins and minerals. For example, Vitamin D helps prevent bone loss and broken bones in older adults, especially when taken with Vitamin K2. Actually, it’s essential to take it with K2. Supplements include not only vitamins and minerals, but also herbs, amino acids, enzymes, essential fats like fish oil and probiotics.
What Might I Need if I’m Older?
Magnesium really is key to blood sugar control, bone building, a healthy heart and 600 other processes the body needs it for. Over the age of 50, and even long before that, everyone needs magnesium as almost everyone is deficient these days for a variety of reasons.
Vitamin D3 is also a pro-hormone and antioxidant, improves calcium and phosphorus uptake, but once it’s absorbed, it MUST be directed to bone not soft tissue, and only Vitamin K2 does this – hence the emphasis again on Vitamin K2. Osteoporosis is an issue in older people, and Vitamin D3 helps with vitality, immunity and bone building.
Vitamin K2 has to be one of the most crucial vitamins ever as you age. It protects your heart, brain and bones, and prevents calcification of the arteries and stenosis of the heart valves. Because it removes hardened calcium from calcified plaques in soft tissue and redirects it to the long bones, it’s a non-negotiable must-have.
Vitamin B12 is important for keeping blood cells and nerve cells healthy. Ageing dramatically affects how well you take in and use B12 from foods, so if you’re over 50, it’s best to get your B12 from supplements as well as red meat, eggs and fish.
Folate helps prevent anaemia. Spinach, beans, peas, oranges, and good quality greens are high in folate.
Vitamin B6 is extremely important for metabolism and the immune system. You will find good supplies mostly in organ meats.
Vitamin C is essential to life as the body cannot make it, and we need to eat it daily for healthy immune systems. You’ll find some in red and green bell peppers, along with other vegetables and fruits. It protects against cataracts, helps wound healing, and lowers your odds of having certain kinds of cancer. Take a supplement daily no matter how well you eat.
Fish oil – like vitamin C – cannot be made by the body – the valuable DHA and EPA found in fatty fish is a secret to good health hiding in plain site. Take a minimum of 3g a day. The American Heart Association now recommends at least two servings a week of salmon and other types of fish with omega-3 fatty acids. You’ll also find your arthritis will vanish and so will many aches and pains!
Pure Hydrolysed Collagen is in my view, essential as we get older, to protect against micro-bleeds, to strengthen arteries and the gut, to improve eyesight and keep eyes healthy (they are almost 100% collagen), strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis and to help you retain valuable muscle – apart from all the beauty benefits.
And here are a few other really important ones if you have the inclination:
Probiotics. Gut health is paramount for your immune system. Some studies show that probiotics which are living organisms like those found in capsules and in sauerkraut help prevent some types of diarrhoea and ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. But so much more than this from bone building to brain and heart health – and everything in between.
Coenzyme Q10 also called coQ10, is made naturally in your body and found in most body tissues. Sadly those awful statin drugs which I don’t believe any living thing should be on (to lower cholesterol needlessly) deplete this vital nutrient! Without it your risk of heart disease skyrockets.
Melatonin is a hormone released mostly at night to help you fall asleep. The science on it is promising as it is also now recognised as a powerful anti-carcinogen.