6 Vitamin Must-Knows for Seniors

In general, the components of a healthy diet don’t change terribly much over your lifespan. However, as people age, their vitamin needs change, which is a natural part of aging. Following are six vitamin checks for seniors to stay their nutritionally best from Alicia I. Arbaje, M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Professor of Medicine, and director of Transitional Care in the Research Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.


  • man taking vitamins
    Multivitamin Check: Seniors should supplement for specific vitamin deficiencies rather than take a general overall supplement. Multivitamins are not “one size fits all.” Also, taking too much of some vitamins can be toxic. Multivitamins are synthetic and not as beneficial as eating the vitamin in its natural form...food! (Photo © Steveheap | Dreamstime.com)
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    Vitamin Level Check: Certain absorptions of some vitamins change over time. Seniors should have their B12 levels checked as well as their Vitamin D. (Older people might be indoors more and their skin isn’t as efficient in absorbing sun and converting into active Vitamin D.) (Photo © Monika Wisniewska | Dreamstime.com)
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    Ways to Add Vitamin D: Our bodies are devised to absorb Vitamin D from the sun. Getting 20 to 30 minutes of daily sun exposure may increase your levels. Supplementing Vitamin D with food is a balancing act. You can get Vitamin D through food such as egg yolks, salmon and milk but these foods can effect other chronic conditions. For some seniors, Vitamin D is a necessary pill supplement. (Photo © Signorina | Dreamstime.com)
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    Low Vitamin D Consequences: Low Vitamin D levels are linked to many diseases including osteoarthritis, depression, pre-dementia and heart disease. We also have seen studies that show those with low Vitamin D have less balance and reduced muscle strength. This can make you more likely to fall, which often results in hip fractures. Studies are underway to research Vitamin D deficiency and an increased cancer risk. (Photo © Vonschonertagen | Dreamstime.com)
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    Vitamin B12 Supplement: Check your B12 levels regularly. If you have been diagnosed as deficient, you probably will need supplementation. (Photo © Karenfoleyphotography | Dreamstime.com)
  • senior walker
    Low Vitamin B12 Consequences: Your body needs Vitamin B12 to make new cells for your nervous system to work normally. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia (having too few red blood cells), which can make you feel tired or weak. A Vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause other symptoms including trouble walking, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet and memory problems. (Photo © Chiayiwangworks | Dreamstime.com)