5 Common Nutrient Deficiencies in Seniors

by Melissa Chichester

As we age, the body naturally changes the way it absorbs nutrients. This may result in vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.

Eating a nutritious diet and staying active is important to retain wellness as we get older, but supplements may also help support levels. Here are the most common nutrient deficiencies among seniors according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Potassium

Potassium is the third most abundant mineral in the body. It is considered an essential mineral because it is involved in the function of every cell in the body.** Most of us probably think of bananas when we think about potassium; however, other foods are also abundant in potassium, including leafy green vegetables, oranges, sunflower seeds, and potatoes. Potassium is an important electrolyte that assists with muscle function.**

Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a role in energy metabolism.** Significant amounts of Vitamin B-12 are not available in vegetables, but rather animal sources, such as beef, salmon, chicken, and eggs, making this an important supplement for vegetarians. Older adults may have difficulties absorbing naturally-occurring Vitamin B-12. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people over 50 get some synthetic B12 from supplements or fortified foods.

Fiber

We all need fiber-rich foods to assist with regular digestion, and that especially includes seniors. Whole-grain foods, vegetables, and fruits are some of the best sources of fiber. If that isn’t enough, fiber supplements and powders can be added to your wellness routine to support digestive health.**

Calcium

Calcium is another essential mineral needed every day and critical for bone maintenance.** Many delicious foods contain calcium, including almonds, leafy greens, cheese, and dairy products, salmon, and whey protein. If you are not getting enough calcium in your diet, calcium supplements may help. It may be especially important for seniors to supplement every day to help ensure sufficient daily intake.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that works with calcium by enhancing absorption to support bone health.** Many seniors, especially those living in nursing homes and assisted living or in northern areas with long winters, are deficient in the “sunshine vitamin.” Vitamin D can be found in sardines, fish liver oils, and eggs, but because food sources are limited, older individuals may especially benefit from supplementation.

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