Essential Vitamins for Aging
You need more vitamins as you age because not getting enough can make you more prone to injuries or illnesses, but it can be hard to get an idea on just which ones you need. There is a list of essential vitamins for aging, and we want to outline them for you. We'll tell you why you need them as well so you can decide if it's a good idea to add them to your daily routine.
How Vitamins Can Help as You Age
Older adults have different deficiencies when it comes to their minerals and vitamins. For example, adding calcium can help you reduce the chances of osteoporosis. Vitamin D is essential for helping you take in and absorb calcium, and this helps prevent broken bones and bone loss for older adults.
It can be difficult to know what you really need when it comes to vitamins, and a balanced diet usually helps you get your daily amount. But, adding a vitamin supplement may help. You simply have to understand that supplements contain more than just the vitamin in question. They also have amino acids, botanicals, fish oils, and enzymes.
19 Essential Vitamins for Aging
We're going to give you several essential vitamins that help specifically as you age. Taking them can improve your overall health well into your golden years. You don't have to take them all, but taking some can help keep you healthy.
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for helping your body absorb calcium, and calcium is important for keeping your bones healthy. If you don't get enough vitamin D, you stand a higher chance of getting sick, having bone and hair loss, and having back or bone pain. You can get vitamin D from being in the sunlight for 15 minutes a day, but a supplement can help too. Foods that are rich in vitamin D include egg yolks, fatty fish, and fortified foods like cereal, milk, and juice. You should try to get between 600 and 800 IU per day.
Folate (folic acid) is very well known for preventing birth defects and helping a fetus grow and develop. However, this vitamin is also important for fighting depression, growing your nails, and fighting any inflammation you may have. Dark leafy greens, citrus, beans, and avocado are all good sources of Folate. Ideally, you want between 400 and 600 mcg of Folate every day, and your supplement should say methyl folate on the label. This is usually a more beneficial way to take it, and you want to take it on an empty stomach.
Your body doesn't make magnesium by itself, and this makes it an essential nutrient that you have to get from either supplementation or food. Magnesium is very important to energy production and bone health. Additionally, it can reduce stress and calm the nervous system, help you sleep, regulate nerve and muscle function, and balance your blood sugar levels. You can get magnesium from eating soybeans, artichoke, nuts, brown rice, tofu, or pumpkin. You should get between 300 and 320 mg of magnesium a day, and go no higher than 350 mg at maximum.
4. Vitamin B-12
Vitamin B-12 is a complex vitamin that has eight parts that work together to create and help sustain your body's energy supply by breaking down the micronutrients from your food, like carbs, fats, and proteins. In particular, vitamin B-12 helps to keep your blood cells and nerves healthy, and it also makes DNA. You can get vitamin B-12 naturally from animal-based sources like fish, meat, eggs, and poultry. Your daily dose is less than 3 mcg, so you may want to get supplements that have one to two mcg per serving.
A large portion of the adult population doesn't get enough calcium in their diets, and this means they can have weaker bones and teeth as a result. For women in particular, this is extremely important. Eating salty fish, fortified cereals, cheese, milk, yogurt, kale, broccoli, nuts, lentils, and beans can help boost your calcium levels. Ideally, you'll want 1,000 mg of calcium a day, and it's relatively easy to get this by supplementation and eating a balanced diet. If you have absorption issues, look for calcium citrate.
Iron is essential to your diet at any age. It ensures you have healthy red blood cells, increased energy, and better brain function overall. If you eat a decent amount of red meat, you most likely get enough iron. People who go through periods of rapid growth usually need more iron, and vegans or vegetarians usually don't get enough of it. You want around 18 mg of iron per day. The supplement you take should have it as ferric citrate, ferrous gluconate, ferrous sulfate, or ferric sulfate. It can make you feel nauseous if you have more than the recommended daily dose.
Zinc is an essential vitamin for supporting your immune system and keeping you healthy. It also helps your body use protein, carbohydrates, and fat to turn them into energy sources, and it helps with wound healing. Things like pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, spinach, organ meat, sardines, oysters, and brown rice are all good ways to get zinc into your diet. Your body can't make zinc by itself, and this is why a supplement is important. You should ideally get between 8 to 11 mg of zinc per day.
8. Vitamin C
When people think of vitamin C, they think of oranges. Vitamin C is important to help protect your eyes from cataracts as you age. Additionally, this vitamin can help speed up your wound healing, and it can potentially lower your risks of developing certain cancers. You can get vitamin C from eating citrus fruits like oranges, green bell peppers, red bell peppers, and other fruits and vegetables. Ideally, you should get around 70 to 95 mg of vitamin C each day with men needing slightly more compared to women.
9. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is important for helping your body make energy and fight germs. Additionally, older adults use this vitamin to help protect their brain health, and it can help improve your memory or protect it. You need around 1.5 to 1.7 mg per day of this vitamin. Chickpeas are a less expensive option to get your daily dose of vitamin B6, but you can also get it by incorporating things like fortified breakfast cereals, liver, and fatty fish into your diet.
Probiotics are the "good" bacteria in your digestive tract that can help combat common problems like diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, or other digestive issues. They help keep the "bad' bacteria in balance so you don't end up with an overgrowth. Probiotics come from fermented foods like sauerkraut and yogurt. Cheese is another good source. There isn't a set amount of probiotics you need per day, so having them in any amount can help to protect your digestive tract and allow you to absorb more nutrients.
Omega-3s are fatty acids that your body can't make by itself, and you have to get all of them from your daily diet. These fatty acids are important for eye health, brain development, and for healthy sperm cells. They also play a role in hair and skin health, and they can protect against Alzheimer's, arthritis, and macular degeneration. Eating fatty fish, like salmon or sardines, or walnuts are good sources, and cooking with flaxseed or canola oil can also help boost your daily intake.
Selenium is important for helping to protect your cells from infection or damage, and it helps to regulate your thyroid. Additionally, Selenium has links to helping improve muscle strength and prevent age-related diseases, like thyroid disease, some cancer types, and dementia, from taking hold. You only need a very small amount of it per day, and you can get it from eating one or two Brazil nuts. If you eat too much, it can cause your nails to be brittle and your hair to fall out.
Potassium is essential to almost every system you have in your body, and this includes your cardiovascular system, muscles, kidneys, and nerves. Additionally, potassium can help to protect you against high blood pressure, stroke, and osteoporosis. You can get potassium from eating dried apricots, spinach, bananas, milk, and yogurt. Ideally, you want between 2,320 and 3,015 mg per day. Men need more potassium each day than women do, and you can use both supplements and food to get it.
14. Vitamin B1
Also known as Thiamin, vitamin B1 is important for helping your body convert food into energy. It also plays an important role in helping keep your skin, hair, nails, and muscles healthy as you age. You use it for ensuring you get good nerve function and brain health as well. You need between 1.1 and 1.2 mg of vitamin B1 per day to stay healthy. You can get this vitamin if you eat brown rice, pork chops, ham, watermelon, acorn squash, or soy milk.
Another important vitamin that helps your body convert food into an energy source and synthesize glucose, Biotin also helps break down fatty acids. In turn, this helps keep both your hair and bones healthy. You want right around 30 mcg per day of this vitamin. Certain strains of bacteria in your digestive tract do make a small amount of Biotin, but it's not clear how much your body actually absorbs. Eating organ meats, whole grains, soybeans, egg yolks, and different types of fish can help boost your intake.
Choline helps to both make and encourage your body to release acetylcholine, and this is an important neurotransmitter. It helps to metabolize and transport fats throughout your body, and it's essential for both brain and nerve health. You want between 425 and 550 mg of Choline per day. Your body does produce small amounts of it, but it's not enough for older adults. You can get Choline from eating eggs, milk, peanuts, salmon, and liver, or you can take a supplement to help boost your levels.
17. Vitamin E
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, and this means that it neutralizes unstable molecules that can go on to damage your cells. It protects vitamin A from damage due to lipids, and diets that are rich in vitamin E can help encourage brain development and protect against Alzheimer's disease. You need around 15 mg of vitamin E from synthetic sources and 22 IU from natural sources with 1,000 mg being the upper limit. You can get vitamin E from vegetable oils, salad dressing, wheat germ, leafy green vegetables like kale or broccoli, whole grains, and nuts.
18. Vitamin K
Another essential vitamin for aging adults, vitamin K activates both calcium and proteins that are instrumental in blood clotting. In turn, this can help prevent hip fractures in older adults due to accidents and falls. You need between 90 and 120 mcg per day. Certain intestinal bacteria do produce small amounts of vitamin K, but it's only half of your recommended dosage. You can get this vitamin from eating, spinach, cabbage, eggs, liver, broccoli, milk, kale, collard greens, and brussels sprouts.
19. Vitamin B5
Vitamin B5 is also pantothenic acid. It plays an important role in helping convert the food you eat into energy sources for your body. It also helps to make lipids, steroid hormones, hemoglobin, and neurotransmitters. You need 5 mg of vitamin B5 per day. This vitamin is readily available in a large range of food, including egg yolk, chicken, broccoli, whole grains, mushrooms, tomato products, and avocados. If you don't get enough of this vitamin, you can experience burning in your hands and feet.
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