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The main nutrients of concern for the elderly are vitamins D and B12. Since elderly people spend a lot of time indoors, they are more likely to have low serum levels of vitamin D and would benefit from a supplement. Cholecalciferol (D3) is the recommended form. Also, as we age the amount of hydrochloric acid we produce decreases, which means that we are less able to absorb vitamin B12. Since this vitamin plays a role in brain and nervous system function, it is very important for the elderly to take sublingual B12 or get a B12 injection.
Older adults may need a variety of nutritional supplements depending on their medical conditions. It is generally safe and recommended to take a multivitamin, calcium, and vitamin D. Anemia is very common in older adults, therefore iron sulfate may help to decrease symptoms of anemia. Be cautious, as iron may cause constipation. There are many types of anemia, and additional supplementation may be needed such as vitamin B12 and folate.
Protein needs are often not met in older adults, therefore pay careful attention to ensuring adequate protein is consumed. Foods high in protein are dairy products, meats, and beans/lentils. If protein needs are not met, an oral nutrition supplement such as Ensure or Boost may be needed.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.