Vitamins and Minerals for the Older Adult Back »

Written by Lily Sanderson under the direction and supervision of Megan Erickson.


No matter your age, it is important to get the right amount of nutrients each day. Micronutrients, or more widely referred to as vitamins and minerals, play an important role as we get older. However, we cannot reap the benefits if we do not consume the adequate amounts. We can consume vitamin and minerals though a variety of foods as well as in supplements.

Consuming vitamins and minerals help reduce the risk of developing several health problems such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, bone loss and osteoporosis, and diabetes. They are also key nutrients needed for various bodily functions. As mentioned previously, vitamins and minerals can be consumed in a supplement, but it is always important to consult a physician first.


Vitamin A

Benefits:

  • Maintains normal, healthy vision
  • Affects immune function

Sources:

  • Liver
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potato
  • Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Eggs
  • Fortified cereals and skim milk
  • Cheese

Vitamin C

Benefits:

  • Tissue repair and production
  • Wound healing
  • Helps the body fight various diseases and infections

Sources:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Green peppers
  • Leafy greens
  • Berries
  • Pineapple

Vitamin B12

Benefits:

  • Promotes healthy nerve and blood cells
  • Helps make DNA (genetic material in the body)

Sources:

  • Beef liver
  • Clams
  • Red meat
  • Fish and other seafood
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Fortified foods

Vitamin D

Benefits:

  • Maintains bone mass (as people age, bone density can be lost)
  • Affects immune function

Sources:

  • Sun exposure
  • Fatty fish
  • Fortified dairy products

Calcium

Benefits:

  • Maintains healthy teeth and bones
  • Lowers the risk of developing osteoporosis, colon cancer, and/or hypertension

Sources:

  • Dairy products
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Salmon
  • Dried beans

Tip: Vitamin D and Calcium work together to maintain healthy teeth and bones—both are needed to function effectively.


Potassium

Benefits:

  • Lowers risk of developing high blood pressure
  • May reduce the risk of developing kidney stones
  • Helps prevent bone loss

Sources:

  • Bananas
  • Low-fat milk
  • Yogurt
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Baked potato with skin
  • Strawberries
  • Avocados

Iron

Benefits:

  • Carries oxygen to muscles
  • Prevents iron deficiency anemia

Sources:

  • Red meats
  • Dried beans and fruit
  • Eggs
  • Fortified cereals
  • Tuna
  • Poultry

Tip: To improve iron absorption, include vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables with these foods.


Zinc

Benefits:

  • Affects immune function
  • Plays roles in the various proteins, called enzymes, that the body uses perform a wide range of important functions

Sources:

  • Oysters
  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Fortified breakfast cereals and dairy

MyPlate provides recommendations specific to older adults. Start taking notice of what you are eating, and healthy eating can make a difference in your health and how you feel. It is not too late to start!

Are you looking for more nutrition tips and tricks?

Check out our series What Does Our Age Have To Do With The Food We Eat? to read more about how the food we eat can enhance our health.


References:

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