North America is “graying.” In my new series, I will explore essential nutrients, the perils of being deficient, and why aging adults should consider supplements for specific reasons. Here is part one.
The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that the number of people over 65 will increase to 69.4 million in 2030 from 34.6 million in 2000. With this in mind, the essential nutrients for people over 50 become more critical. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) are made for this purpose, as they tie in the nutritional needs of older adults to physiological changes and protection against chronic diseases. And that famous “Food Guide Pyramid” has been modified to reflect these needs, too.
One out of three adults between the ages of 60 and 69 doesn’t get their required levels of the following nutrients: vitamins A, E, C, and B6; folate; calcium; magnesium; and zinc. One study found that, among 1,740 healthy adults (aged 51 to 85), fewer than 50% consumed recommended levels for vitamin D, vitamin E, folate, and calcium, or daily food servings of dairy grain, vegetables or fruits. Not good news!
With this in mind, here is what you need to know about nine nutrients that older adults often become deficient in. (Note that mg = milligrams; ug = micrograms)
1. Vitamin A: Men need 900 ug a day; women 700 ug a day. This nutrient supports bone growth, vision and immune function.
2. Vitamin B6: Men need 1.7 mg a day; women 1.5 mg. It supports nerve function and helps prevent heart disease.
3. Folate: All adults need 400 ug a day. It supports red blood cell formation and cell growth and helps prevent heart disease.
(For more great information on the benefits of folate, read the article, Boost Folate Levels and Keep Depression Away.)
4. Vitamin C: Men need 90 mg and women 75 mg a day. It supports immune function and wound healing and is an antioxidant.
5. Vitamin D: Adults need about 15 ug a day. While it supports calcium absorption, its list of protective effects is long and amazing.
6. Vitamin E: Adults need 15 mg a day. An antioxidant, it supports immune function and helps prevent heart disease.
7. Calcium: Adults need 1,200 mg a day. It supports bone strength, nerve function, muscle contraction, and blood clotting.
8. Magnesium: Adults need 320 mg a day. It supports energy creation, muscle contraction, nerve function, and healthy blood pressure.
9. Zinc: Men need 11 mg and women eight mg a day. It supports immune function, taste sensation, and protein synthesis.