As we grow older, we must pay particular attention to maintaining nutritional health. There are specific nutrients we must try to be conscious of, and that is where I’m headed in this four-part article here. I’ll begin with the first five of my top 10 before moving on to what medical bodies recommend.
Getting less-than-optimal nutrition in just one year can lead to deficiencies in vitamins B and C, and the water-soluble vitamins. It takes a bit longer to see deficiencies form in vitamins A, D, E and K, the fat-soluble vitamins, as well as vitamin B12. Adequate intake of vitamins not only prevents vitamin deficiencies, but also reduces the risk of many chronic diseases in older individuals, such as cognitive disorder, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. Here I look at the benefits that five vitamins in particular have for you as you get older.
1. Vitamin A
A powerful antioxidant, important in the prevention of cancer and immune function, reducing the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and macular degeneration, and promoting skeletal growth, and essential for night vision. There is no evidence that older individuals differ in the requirement for vitamin A as compared to younger individuals.
2. Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
Essential for carbohydrate metabolism, vitamin B1 maintains a healthy nervous system, strong muscles, and proper functioning of the heart, and helps prevents fatigue and fat deposition in arteries. There is no evidence that the thiamin requirement in older individuals is different than in younger individuals.
3. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
This vitamin is important in the synthesis of amino acid and fatty acids, and in tissue repair, and energizes cells in the body. There is no evidence that the older persons’ riboflavin requirement is any different than younger individuals’, even though up to 25% of those over 65 years are not taking the amount recommended.
4. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6 is important in the metabolism of amino acids and essential fatty acids and the formation of neurotransmitters in the brain. It also helps control blood cholesterol levels and prevent water retention and is essential for hemoglobin synthesis and the formation of neurotransmitters in the brain. There is evidence from population studies that showed that up to 50% of individuals over age 60 years were not taking the amount of vitamin B6 recommended. However, there is no evidence that older persons require more vitamin B6 compared to younger individuals.
Folate has a major role in lowering the elevated blood level of homocysteine, which is known to increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke. It is essential for the function of vitamins A, D, E and K, and the formation of red blood cells. It helps prevent neuro tube defects and improve blood circulation, and aids in the digestion of proteins. There is no evidence of an increased folate requirement in older persons.