In my ongoing series regarding nutrition in the older adult, here is a story about the kind of issues that arise that will directly affect your needs for certain vitamins and minerals. They include absorption issues, immune problems, and conditions in the stomach.
There are many age-related factors that alter the nutritional requirements in an older individual. Here is a point-by-point look at them so you have a good idea:
— Stomach environment: Some people have the condition called “atrophic gastritis,” or just have lower levels of gastric acid in the stomach. This means they need more folate, calcium, vitamin K, vitamin B12, and iron.
— Vitamin D problems: As you age, your skin and kidneys can start reducing their creation of vitamin D, and your gut may start reducing its response to the active form of the vitamin. This means you will need to supplement with more vitamin D.
— Higher absorption: You can start to absorb greater amounts of vitamin A, which is fat soluble and thus can’t be sent out in urine if there’s too much. You’ll need to reduce your requirement for vitamin A.
— High homocysteine levels: This potentially dangerous amino acid increases your risk of serious disease, and you’ll need to increase your levels of folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6.
–. Menopause: Women may have a reduced need for iron; check with your doctor.
— Weakened immune system: This is a problem on many levels; for starters, it means you’ll need more zinc and iron, and probably many other nutrients as well.
— Illness or use or prescription drugs: You’ll have to check with your doctor on this, as ,depending on the disease or medication, you’ll need more of specific vitamins and minerals.
** Atrophic gastritis is a common condition (it affects up to 80% of those over 80 years old) in the older individuals. It occurs when their stomach lining is attacked by antibodies, thus losing the ability to produce acid enzymes for digesting nutrients. This condition is particularly common in those individuals who either have part of their stomach removed or are chronically infected with the “Helicobacter pylori” bacteria.