Sometimes Mother Nature is just cruel.
If you’re a senior who sticks to a healthy diet, watches what you eat chances are you’re still running low on a few vital nutrients. It’s maddening, but true.
Because despite your best efforts certain nutritional deficiencies are much more common as we age. And the greater risk isn’t the only thing you need to worry about either.
It turns out those nutritional deficiencies are harder to spot in seniors, too. In fact, your doctor might even miss them! Because they often masquerade as more common signs of aging.
A lack of vitamin B12 can look like ordinary forgetfulness, for example. Or running low on vitamin D might be mistaken for a slowing immune system.
Beware of these common nutritional deficiencies in seniors
Older bodies don’t absorb nutrients as efficiently. So even if you’re eating enough, you may not be getting enough. And at the same time, your body becomes less proficient at producing other nutrients it needs.
Following are five of the most common nutritional deficiencies in seniors.
1. Vitamin B12:
Being low in Vitamin B12 is so common it’s practically the poster child for senior nutritional deficiencies. Our bodies stop absorbing it efficiently as we age. Which means you really need to boost how much of it you’re getting in your diet to meet you minimal needs.
Vitamin B12 plays an essential role in creating new red blood cells and maintaining healthy nerve function. Which means it’s critical you get enough of it in your diet. You’ll find it in fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy. Your doctor may suggest taking a supplement, too.
When most folks think of folate (folic acid), it’s in connection to pregnancy. And it’s true, pregnant ladies need to be sure they’re getting enough of this vital vitamin to prevent birth defects.
But ignoring your folate levels later in life, whether you’re a guy or a gal is a mistake. Folate is particularly important for seniors. Experts say the vitamin can help keep us sharp as a tack as we age since it’s linked to better cognitive function.
To boost your levels, load up on folate rich foods including garbanzo beans, liver, pinto beans, lentils, asparagus, black eyed peas, beets and spinach.
You know calcium is important for your bones. But did you realize it’s vital for your heart and other organs, too?
In fact, if you aren’t getting enough calcium to satisfy the needs of all your organs your body will literally steal it from your bones. And that can leave them brittle, weak and prone to breaks.
And when it comes to senior nutritional deficiencies running low on calcium is a real problem because balance issues and muscle weakness are more common too. Which means your chances of falls and broken bones skyrocket.
You can raise your calcium levels be eating more of the right foods including milk, kale, cheese, sardines, yogurt, broccoli, okra, boy choy and almonds. And if you’re still having trouble keeping your levels up, supplements may be an option too.
But here’s the thing about calcium… it’s a team player. When things are working as they should, calcium gets bound up in your bones. But to do that it needs the help of vitamins K2, D and the mineral magnesium.
If you’re not getting enough of those nutrients too, it circulates in your blood stream and can eventually lead to the deposits that harden your arteries. Get enough of all three to avoid any heart risks.
4. Vitamin D:
Not just seniors are at risk for nutritional deficiencies. Running low on vitamin D is common across all ages. But as we age, our risk gets even higher.
We tend to spend less time outdoors in the sunshine, which means we aren’t getting the raw material needed to produce vitamin D. And at the same time, our bodies get less efficient at manufacturing the vitamin.
Vitamin D is essential for a strong immune system. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, it’s essential for strong bones since your body requires it to absorb calcium.
Your best source of vitamin D is the sun itself. You can also raise your levels by eating more vitamin D rich foods including cod liver oil, wild-caught fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and tuna, and pasture raised beef liver and eggs.
And if you do opt for a supplement, make sure you take the vitamin D3 version which your body absorbs better.
Every single cell in your body uses magnesium in some way. But experts say nearly half of all Americans don’t get enough of it in their diets. And according to the National Institutes of Health, the picture is even worse for seniors.
As we age, we’re even more likely to be low on this essential mineral because we tend to get even less of it in our diets. And to make matters worse we may be taking common meds which interfere with its absorption, making it one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in seniors.
To raise your levels naturally eat plenty of magnesium rich foods including spinach, Swiss chard, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans and avocados.
If you’re a senior and suspect you may be the victim of any of these common nutritional deficiencies ask your doctor about testing. If your levels are low, a combination of diet and supplements can help restore your numbers.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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