SUPPLEMENTS FOR SENIORS
From the age of 60, your parents may need extra nutrition. Here’s what could help their health.
VITAMIN A This is an essential vitamin for good vision. It also promotes the growth of healthy cells and tissues.
Recommended daily intake: 700mcg for women and 900mcg for men.
B VITAMINS Folic acid (also called folate or vitamin B9), vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are all essential for proper brain function.
Folic acid protects against heart disease too, while vitamin B6 helps to maintain a healthy nervous system.
A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause irreversible nerve damage, and seniors typically don’t have enough of the vitamin. They have lower levels of stomach acid, which is needed to absorb vitamin B12 from food – so they need a daily supplement.
Recommended daily intake: 400mcg of folic acid; 1.5mg of vitamin B6 for women and 1.7mg for men; 2.4mcg of vitamin B12. CALCIUM, VITAMIN D & MAGNESIUM Calcium helps prevent brittle bone disease or osteoporosis, and is essential for muscle function and normal blood clotting. Take vitamin D and calcium together, because vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium better. It also protects against many cancers, including those of the breast, prostate and colon.
While you can get your daily dose of vitamin D through sun exposure, seniors tend to get less sun than younger people. The body’s ability to absorb calcium also declines with age, so older individuals may need these supplements.
Magnesium should be taken with calcium as well, to offset the latter’s constipating effect. But make sure your parents do not overdose on calcium – it can cause calcification or hardening of soft tissues in the kidneys, lungs and heart. Recommended daily intake: 1,000iu of vitamin D; 500mg of
calcium; 250mg of magnesium. Anything less than 800iu of vitamin D daily won’t help to prevent bone loss in the elderly.
ZINC This mineral helps to maintain a healthy immune system, but most seniors don’t get enough of it through their diet. Signs of deficiency include a poor appetite, slow wound healing, bronchitis and pneumonia. In men, zinc is especially important for prostate health. Recommended daily intake: 8mg for women and 11mg for men. OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) reduce inflammation, which plays an important role in the development of nearly all diseases. They are also important for heart, brain and joint health and function.
Go for high-quality omega-3 capsules or liquid. These may be more costly, but if you stint on this supplement, you may be getting a low-grade product. Purified fish oils have higher concentrations of EPA and DHA, so Mum and Dad won’t have to consume so many capsules. Recommended daily intake: 1,000mg of EPA and 500mg of DHA.
COENZYME Q10 Useful for cardiovascular health, the nutrient may also help lower blood pressure with continued use, as it strengthens the heart and pulse. Recommended daily intake: 200mg.