6 Most Common Nutritional Deficits in Seniors

It’s not unusual for older adults to experience nutritional deficiencies. Insufficient dietary intake, medical conditions, and lifestyle choices can all contribute to a deficiency. However, families have the opportunity to help their senior loved ones make the necessary corrections. Here are some of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the elderly.

1. B Vitamins

Approximately 38 percent of older adults are deficient in vitamin B12, which is manufactured in the gastrointestinal system. Vitamin B12 is vital for nerve function and assisting in red blood cell creation. Seniors with gastric ailments often have pernicious anemia, which is the inability to absorb vitamin B12 properly. Older adults may need vitamin B12 injections if they have gastric or liver disorders.

Folic acid, another B vitamin, is known to protect the cardiovascular system and may prevent certain types of cancer. Vitamin B6 is necessary to protect and ensure optimal nerve tissue function. Rich sources of B complex vitamins include fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, and fortified cereals and juices. Oral supplements are also available.

2. Calcium

Calcium is necessary for bone strength and density along with cardiovascular and muscle function. Seniors are often deficient in calcium secondary to gastric disorders, physical inactivity, or a lack of dietary intake. Low-fat dairy products and dark leafy vegetables are rich sources of calcium. Seniors need at least 1,200 milligrams of the nutrient daily. 

Regular exercise is also essential for strong, healthy bones. Aging adults who need help exercising safely can benefit from the assistance of a professional caregiver with expertise in home care. San Diego seniors can boost balance, mobility, and strength with the encouragement and support of a compassionate caregiver.

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D must be present for the body to absorb and use calcium. Under normal circumstances, exposing the skin to sunshine encourages the body to make the vitamin. However, seniors who remain indoors or don’t get enough vitamin D through their diet may be deficient. Oily fish and fortified low-fat dairy products and juices are good sources. Older adults need a minimum of 1,000 IU daily.

4. Vitamin C

The body needs vitamin C to absorb proteins, create connective tissue, and heal wounds. As the nutrient is rich in antioxidants, it also protects the body from oxidative stress that leads to cell damage, death, and malignant development. Good sources include citrus fruits and brightly colored produce. Older adults need up to 90 milligrams of vitamin C daily.

5. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is known to protect cardiovascular tissue and the delicate nerve cells in the brain. The nutrient’s antioxidant properties are also beneficial for fighting oxidative stress and supporting the immune system. The vitamin is available in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and oral supplements. Aging adults need 15 milligrams of vitamin E each day.

6. Magnesium

Approximately 60 percent of magnesium lies in the bones. As such, magnesium is important for bone health. The nutrient also plays a role in blood glucose regulation and vascular function. Deficiencies aren’t uncommon in seniors with alcohol dependency, diabetes, or gastric disorders. Older adults need up to 400 milligrams of magnesium every day. Lean meat, dark green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are all good sources.

For aging adults who need help planning and preparing nutritious meals, exercising, and adopting other healthy lifestyle habits, professional home caregivers are a wonderful resource. When they need high-quality senior care, San Diego families rely on Coast Care Partners, a premier caregiver agency with extensive experience in elderly home care. From assistance with everyday tasks to providing around-the-clock care, we offer customized services based on the unique needs of each individual senior. Reach out to one of our friendly representatives today at 619-354-2544 to find out how we can boost your senior loved one’s quality of life.