This Vitamins for Seniors article is intended to provide seniors with the information they need to make educated vitamin choices possible. There are a lot of choices out there yet many lack the necessary information they need to good supplement choices. Seniors even more than others need to supplement their diet as they run the real risk of real inadequate nutrition.
As the body grows older, it needs even more life-giving vitamins to ward off disease, fight illness, as well as daily repair and maintenance.
That’s one of the reasons why we wrote this vitamins for seniors page. Health professionals have proclaimed many seniors lack adequate nutrition by not eating as healthy as they should, but many also lack good digestion and assimilation.
Many also take too many prescription medications that demand much of the body often with terrible side effects. Many seniors live alone and make dietary compromises as well and the end result: nutritional deficiencies. That is why vitamins for seniors is so vital. The older you get, the more important nutrition becomes.
Can Vitamins Really Help Seniors?
To answer the question in the subheading, yes — vitamins can help seniors IF they are taking assimilable vitamins and that is the key. Vitamins for seniors are especially critical as the older we become, the less efficient the body becomes. The senior needs vitamins not just for maintenance, but to strengthen his or her body’s regenerative efforts for metabolism but also for daily energy. Also, the limited amounts of vitamins researchers say contributes to illness and degenerative diseases.
Vitamin K, for example, has been found to exist in low levels in Alzheimer’s patients. Seniors need all vitamins but are there some vitamins that are more important? Yes and no. Seniors need all vitamins, which is why good supplementation is so critical to their daily diet. Some particular vitamins and minerals that are crucial are: Vitamins E, D, C, calcium, zinc, and the B vitamin complex.
Vitamins E, D, and C are known and powerful antioxidants, which antioxidants prevent free radical damage that lead to disease and aging. (Vitamin D isn’t as powerful as C and E, but it’s potent nonetheless.)
What Are The Best Vitamins for Seniors
Let’s take the premise of “what are the best vitamins for seniors” a step further. Needless to say, senior health issues are different than those for the younger set. Seniors need good digestive health, good basic energy levels, good brain function, and good eyesight adequate enough to have a basic healthy life notwithstanding their diminished capacity due to age. Vitamins for seniors is important, but vitamins and minerals, though important, cannot do that alone.
There are some superstar nutrients that we’d like to discuss now to help educate you in your quest for better health. Of course, other factors are a part of good health such as diet and exercise, but nutritional adequacy is vital — that is the basic point of this vitamins for seniors page.
Specialty Compounds for Seniors
When selecting an alternative nutritional supplement, look for specific compounds that are very powerful antioxidant substances. This is important for seniors. Remember, not all antioxidants have equal value. Yes, vitamins C and E are needed and you should take them daily, but there are also carotenoids like beta-carotene, selenium, bioflavonoids like quercitin (sometimes spelled quercetin) and hesperidin.
These can be supplied by a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, but there are lesser known antioxidants like alpha lipoic acid, Gingko Biloba, Green Tea , L-Carnosine, N-Acetyl Cysteine, and Resveratrol. Let’s discuss them one at a time now. First, the basics — Vitamin D, E, and K before we talk about the special nutrients alluded to (these are, by the way, key vitamins for seniors).
Vitamin D is often called the “sunlight vitamin” as it’s produced by the body when the sun’s ultraviolet rays hit the skin. It also has the distinction of being the only vitamin the body actually manufactures. It is also a fat-soluble vitamin essential for good teeth and bone health. It also helps to strengthen the immune system. The elderly don’t usually get enough Vitamin D. Seniors between the age of 50 and 70 need 400 IU (international units) of it per day. If you’re over 70, 600 IU per day.
Seniors usually lack Vitamin K. It is essential for blood clotting and helps maintain and even enhance bone density. It plays a key role in preventing osteoporosis. We mentioned before that Alzhemier’s disease and Vitamin K studies show have a common link — Vitamin K levels are lower in carriers of the APOE4 gene, the gene that is a risk factor in Alzheimer’s. Though not a antioxidant per se, it does prevent cell death. RDA for Vitamin K is 120 micrograms per day for senior men, 90 micrograms for senior women.
Vitamin E is essential to good senior health. It is a fat soluble vitamin that has potent antioxidant properties thus preventing the oxidation of the fatty acids in the membranes of all cells. It slows aging. (Entertainer Bob Hope gave vitamin E credit for allowing him to live such a long life.) The RDA (Recommended international units (IU) for an adult is 22 IU (or about 15 mgs).
There are times when megadoses are given though when digestive mal absorption doesn’t occurs. This can range from 100 IU to 200. The dosage prescribed for protection against coronary disease ranges from 400 to 800 IU per day. If you have any questions as to what you need and if you’re aren’t sure, consult with your doctor. Let’s discuss now those Superstar Nutrients.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha-lipoic acid benefits include not just antioxidant capability, but it also helps the B vitamins produce more energy from proteins, carbs, and fats. This is one of the unknown yet very capable vitamins for seniors you should know about. Studies also show alpha-lipoic acid supplements help prevent complications from diabetes but it also helps in the treatment of many diversified health issues including, glaucoma, even liver problems cirrhosis — HIV infection. It helps slow aging– something of interest to all, including seniors.
Gotu Kola is another popular memory enhancer that finds its way in a myriad of memory supplements or memory pills. As with Gingko Biloba, the authors can personally testify as to its efficacy. Due to its capability to enhance memory and as a nerve tonic, among other capabilities, Gotu Kola has been called “food for the brain.” Interestingly enough, Gotu Kola is a favorite food among elephants perhaps explaining the saying, “A memory like an elephant.”
A Vitamins for Seniors web page wouldn’t be complete without mention of Ginkgo Biloba. Gingko Biloba comes from a tree species that is literally one of the oldest trees on earth. This powerful antioxidant helps improve circulation, fights coronary disease, and helps improve and correct brain-centered activity by improving oxygen levels in the brain. It even helps in eliminating impotence and in lessening the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. For good effect, take 30 to 60 mg twice a day.
Green Tea Extract
Green Tea possesses powerful antioxidants called polyphenols that studies suggest are even more potent than vitamins C and E to destroy cancer-causing free radicals. This is one of the most potent vitamins for seniors or foods in the world, in our opinion. Among its many therapeutic benefits, Green Tea has also been shown to have very promising results regarding preventing prostate cancer. A study conducted by the respected Mayo Clinic found that “the main polyphenol in Green Tea, which is EGCG, inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells and in high concentrations destroys them.” Its affects don’t apply only to men. In a study reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology July 1996, a study of 35,000 post-menopausal Iowa women showed that those “who drank two or ore cups of tea daily were less likely to develop cancers of the urinary or digestive tract.” Look for 25 to 100 mg of green tea extract for best effect.
Carnosine is an active antioxidant antiaging substance that is produced by the body by the enzyme carnosine synthetase. It supports cellular rejuvenation by working on both glycosylation and free radical damage. Glycosylation is the oxidation of proteins by glucose (blood sugar) that results in the cross linking of proteins that are in turn implicated in the loss of cell function, genome integrity and aging. Look for a supplement that has 50 to 150 mg of it for optimum effect.
N-Acetylcysteine has shown the ability in clinical studies to actually improve the autoimmune system while simultaneously preventing cellular damage and thus aging. It also is a potent protector to environmental toxins like secondhand cigarette smoke, herbicides, even some chemicals. It is a powerful oxidant when taken at the 35 to 150 mg recommended level.
Found in red wine and grape juice (among other sources), Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant that studies have shown eliminates free radical damage linked to many cancers. It also has robust anti-inflammatory properties. Regarding its anti-cancer capability, it actually combats cancer at all three steps: initiation, promotion, and progression.
Resveratrol also possesses remarkable cholesterol lowering ability. Its antioxidant properties also has the ability to reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). Lastly, look for a supplement that has 25 to 40 mgs of it for best effect.
Tips on The Best Vitamins for Seniors
Vitamin supplementation for seniors is a necessity, not a luxury. Choosing a multivitamin, the best multivitamin, is difficult. So many claim their product is superior yet dietary supplement fraud is rampant. Literally 1 in 5 supplement manufacturers don’t even have the proclaimed ingredients on the label in the supplement! Furthermore, the threat of contaminants is real.
Key Tips on Selecting the Best Vitamins for Seniors
1. The supplements should be produced at pharmaceutical standard GMP registered facilities. Facilities that are GMP registered comply with the most rigid standards so as to minimize the possibility of product contaminants. (These are the same standards pharmaceutical companies in the United States are required to operate under as mandated by the FDA.)
Nutritional supplements are not regulated by FDA and as such fraud is rampant with many so-called supplements containing contaminants with 1 in 5 not having the ingredients as proclaimed on the label!
2. Ensure the supplement manufacturer has a Certificate of Analysis (COA) on file for review by you the customer thus confirming the potency of the herbal ingredients listed on the label.
3. Look for vitamin tablets that have enteric coating. Enteric coating ensures the safety of the tablet while in the stomach so it’s not destroyed by stomach acids. Enteric coating preserves the ingredients until they pass into the upper intestine where they are then assimilated into the blood stream.
4. Vitamins for seniors that have herbal compounds should be contain standardized herbal extracts. Standardized extracts contain the active ingredients, the potency, of the herb.
It’s expensive to do this, which is why most vitamin makers don’t do this. By selecting vitamins for seniors that meet this criteria, you’re ensuring you’re getting high quality, pharmaceutical grade vitamins– the best vitamins for seniors.