Are multivitamins necessary for seniors?
Nutritional needs change through each phase in your life. While it's always best to get essential nutrients from food sources, maintaining a balanced and healthy diet may be challenging once you're already a senior. Your body becomes less efficient in processing and absorbing nutrients which may result in malnutrition. You'd likely search for the best absorbable multivitamins for seniors to fill nutritional gaps.
With a lot of supplements you can find online or at pharmacies and grocery stores like Walmart, how do you choose the right one for you?
Let's first brisk through the essential vitamins and minerals for older adults so you'd know what to check on the label.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Older Adults
Adults need a balanced intake of 25 essential vitamins and minerals to stay optimally healthy — but 5 of these key nutrients are significantly important for seniors to lower risks of chronic diseases and slow down signs of aging.
1. B Vitamins
Stomach linings typically become thinner as people age, affecting the body’s ability to absorb B vitamins such as biotin, folate, niacin, and riboflavin. Experts recommend an adult get 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 daily.
B Vitamins help to regulate blood pressure and promote nerve function and heart health. * Vitamin B12 deficiency may weaken cognitive function and increase the risk of heart disease. *
Calcium is one of the essential minerals during senior years as it supports bone health. Older adults typically suffer from bone diseases such as osteoporosis due to calcium deficiencies. Women are particularly prone to this condition after menopause.
Men between the age of 51 and 70 need 1000 mg/day, while women in the same age range require 1200 mg/day.
3. Vitamin D
Seniors need vitamin D to promote better calcium absorption. A study found that vitamin D may also help prevent cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline, and osteoporosis. Our skin naturally absorbs vitamin D from the sun. Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency risk increases as people age due to lesser time spent outdoors — taking a supplement and eating vitamin D-enriched foods such as egg yolks, salmon, and fortified milk will significantly help.
Men aged 51 years and above need 420 milligrams of magnesium, while women in the same age range need 320 milligrams per day. Magnesium is vital in regulating our heartbeat and keeping our bones strong. * Getting enough of this mineral may help boosts immune health, maintain healthy nerve function, promote muscle strength and preserve cognitive function. * However, magnesium absorption naturally decreases as people age. Certain medications, including diuretics, may also decrease magnesium absorption.
Potassium is an electrolyte vital for cell function. Healthy potassium levels help regulate blood pressure, support kidney function, and promote bone strength and muscle mass. * We naturally get potassium from fruits and vegetables such as bananas and potatoes.
However, due to loss of appetite and decreased body function, seniors may be at risk of having potassium deficiency (also known as hypokalemia). Older adults may benefit from taking multivitamins with electrolytes to hit their daily requirements.
Aging and Malnutrition: Is There a Connection?
As you get older, your body naturally goes through various changes that can affect your ability to absorb nutrients leading to malnutrition.
We will discuss five changes that naturally can occur as you age, what causes them and how they contribute to malnutrition among older adults.
1. Altered Sense of Taste and Smell
You've probably heard the saying, "the nose knows." And it's true! According to a study, savory odors increase your appetite. Smelling your food before you eat stimulates the sensory receptors in your nose and mouth, which sends signals to your brain that make you feel hungry.
However, the sense of smell may fade as you get older. When you can't smell, your food will likely taste bland and could make you lose your appetite — this may result in weight loss and dehydration.
2. Tooth Loss and Gum Deterioration
Periodontal disease is a primary culprit in tooth loss among seniors. It is characterized by wobbly teeth, receding gums, and jawbone deterioration. This condition makes it difficult and painful for the elderly, especially the ones who wear a denture, to chew and swallow food— the inability to break down food into smaller particles negatively impacts nutrient absorption.
Older adults tend to avoid certain foods due to discomfort, which increases their risk of nutrient deficiency. Fortunately, supplements are available to fill in nutritional gaps. However, choosing the best easy-to-swallow multivitamins is important for most seniors. According to an FDA report, adults 65 years and above are more likely to choke on pills or tablets.
3. Decreased Digestive Function
Stomach secrets lower amounts of hydrochloric acid as you age, slowing down the body's ability to absorb nutrients from foods. This condition is commonly referred to as hypochlorhydria and is common in people over 65 years old.
4. Decline in Physical Activities
According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a decline in physical activity may affect appetite, energy, and nutrient balance. When you're not physically active, you'll be less hungry and may not each as much — making it more challenging to get essential nutrients from food sources. Regularly eating fewer calories than your body requires may lead to extreme fatigue and anemia.
5. Certain Medications May Interfere With Nutrient Absorption
When you become a senior, it's not uncommon to experience chronic diseases that require treatment. Certain medications can cause side effects that may interfere with the body's ability to absorb essential vitamins and minerals, leading to malnutrition and weight loss.
For instance, some cholesterol-lowering drugs may affect the absorption of vitamins A, B12, D, and K, which are some of the most important vitamins for seniors.
Picking the Best Multivitamins for Seniors
Aging is an inevitable and irreversible process. Most of these changes we've discussed naturally occur during senior years. Maintaining a healthy diet should be your priority, then take supplements as necessary if you are still having challenges getting your daily nutrient requirement from food sources.
It is vital to discuss all your medications with your doctor before you take any supplements, especially if you have a history of digestive problems. Always check the label before buying and avoid products made of synthetic nutrients. You should also consider the best form of supplement that will work for you to prevent choking.
Root'd is one of the best absorbable and non-synthetic multivitamin powders for seniors. Its superfood, probiotic, enzyme, and electrolytes blend boosts hydration and nutrient absorption.