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Vitamins and Mineral Supplements are Important for Older People

Vitamins and Mineral Supplements are Important for Older People

Research has discovered that as we age, our diets and our need for dietary supplements grow. Doctors are increasingly concerned about boosting the levels of vitamins and minerals needed as we grow older.

As people get older, they tend to eat less due to a loss of appetite. As a result, they don't take in adequate amounts of vitamins and other nutrients. One study estimates that one third of the elderly are alarmingly low on important vitamins and minerals. A person who is vitamin and mineral deficient is more susceptible to illness and infections. It is estimated that deaths due to infections are ten times more likely in the elderly.

Vitamins - So what is a vitamin and why is it so essential to our bodies? A vitamin is a molecule that our bodies need to carry out certain biological functions. With only a few exceptions, our bodies cannot create vitamin molecules, so these vital building blocks must come in through food that we eat. Humans need at least 13 different vitamins. Some can be stored for long periods of time-such as vitamin A-but most vitamins need to be replenished frequently.

Vitamins don't supply energy. They help the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins release energy. They are also needed to assist enzymes that repair tissue and help with the production of cells. Many studies show that vitamins and minerals can help or prevent some of the disorders or diseases related to aging.

There are two types of vitamins-water soluble and fat soluble. Water soluble vitamins are not stored and pass through us quickly. Therefore, we have to consume them frequently. Water soluble vitamins contribute to our health, energy and stamina. Some of the well known water soluble vitamins and their benefits are:

  • Vitamin B5 - Reducing swelling.
  • Vitamin B3 - Reduces tissue swelling and increases blood flow.
  • Vitamin B6 - Also reduces swelling. When combined with Vitamin B12 in proper concentration has shown to reduce heart disease.
  • Vitamin B12 -The most vital of the B's, it aids in the formation of cells, myelin production, healthy nerves, and maintaining immune system and mental function.
  • Vitamin C - Helps in the formation of cartilage and bone. Some studies have shown it may reduce the progression of osteoarthritis.

Fat soluble vitamins are vitamins that stay in the body and are typically stored in the liver. You usually receive enough of these eating a well balanced diet. Any condition that can interfere with the absorption of fat in the body like tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis, hypothyroidism, lactose intolerance, and many other diseases or disorders can cause deficiencies in these vitamins. Before taking the daily recommended dose of fat soluble vitamins you must consult your doctor. Over dosage of these substances can cause a toxic build-up. Listed below are the major fat soluble vitamins.

  • Vitamin A - Lungs, throat and mouth depend on vitamin A to retain moisture, and aids in preventing skin disorders like acne, boils, and bumpy skin. Some studies show that it may aid in slowing the aging process.
  • Vitamin K - Plays an important role in the clotting of blood. Research has linked vitamin K to bone health.
  • Vitamin D - Is produced in the skin by exposure to the sun. Deficiencies mostly occur in people living in northern latitudes where daylight is brief during winter months. Changes in skin as we age can also cause poor production of vitamin D. This compound is essential in helping the body absorb calcium and in maintaining strong bones.

Minerals - Unlike vitamins, minerals are not manufactured by plants or animals. Minerals form in the earth, and are absorbed by plants and found in animals that eat the plants. Listed below are some of the essential minerals needed to maintain a healthy body.

  • Iron - Helps carry oxygen throughout the body and helps the immune system ward off foreign entities.
  • Calcium - Most women as they get older need calcium supplements to prevent bone loss and calcium supplements will not do you any good if you do not have the right levels of vitamin D. Your body cannot absorb calcium without vitamin D.
  • Zinc - Zinc deficiencies can affect skin, nerves, and the body's immune system.

It is important that you take vitamin and mineral supplements with food. Fat soluble vitamins require fat ingestion for the best absorption. It is best to take your supplements at the biggest meal of the day.

We use vitamins every day to support the processes our bodies use to maintain life. Ongoing reduced levels of vitamins can make you weak and more vulnerable to disease. Proper nutrition with vitamins and minerals is vital for seniors to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Other health issues related to aging are discussed on the National Care Planning council website at

Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.




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