3 Important Vitamins That Are Often Insufficient In The Elderly

3 Important Vitamins That Are Often Insufficient In The Elderly

The elderly are the group of people who are most vulnerable to malnutrition. Aging makes them experience a variety of decreased body functions that can affect their appetite.

Ultimately, this can lead to eating disorders (such as anorexia) and nutritional deficiencies — including vitamin deficiencies — that lower the quality of life for the elderly. So, what are the consequences of vitamin insufficiency in the elderly? Here's the explanation.

3 Important Vitamins that are Often Insufficient in the Elderly

1. Vitamin D

The first vitamin that is often insufficient in the elderly is vitamin D. Vitamin D is beneficial for maintaining the health and strength of bones and teeth, boosting immunity, and helping the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the body to be more effective.

The best source of vitamin D is the morning sun. Our skin converts special cholesterol into vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. However, the lifestyle of the elderly who are less active and spend most of their time indoors can hinder this mechanism. Moreover, the work of the skin in synthesizing vitamin D begins to decline as we enter old age.

Decreased appetite, which makes the elderly rarely eat and smaller portions of food also play a role in causing the elderly to be prone to vitamin D deficiency.

What are the consequences of vitamin D deficiency in the elderly?

The result of vitamin D deficiency in the elderly is bones that are easily brittle and fractured, worsening osteoporosis, to a dramatic decline in cognitive function. In old age, the decline in cognitive function can increase the risk of senility and depression up to many times compared to the elderly who are able to meet their vitamin D intake properly.

Vitamin D deficiency also increases the elderly's risk of developing heart failure, especially if they already have underlying heart disease.

How to suffice?

Take time for the elderly to bask in the morning sun, for example by taking them for a walk around the housing complex. Intake of vitamin D can also be fulfilled by foods that are good sources of vitamin D such as egg yolks, salmon, liver, butter, milk, shrimp, and yogurt. You can also provide vitamin D supplements.

2. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is also included in the list of vitamins that are often insufficient in the elderly. Vitamin C has a myriad of benefits for the body. Starting from increasing immunity, increasing stamina to prevent fatigue, preventing anemia, to playing a role in the formation of collagen to maintain healthy skin, bones, gums, and eyes. In addition, adequate intake of vitamin C can also prevent the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) because this citrus fruit can increase the body's metabolism to break down excess cholesterol.

Vitamin C is basically a vitamin that is easy to get enough of. But again, the elderly are vulnerable to vitamin C deficiency because they are influenced by sedentary lifestyle factors and decreased meal timings and portions.

What are the consequences of vitamin C deficiency in the elderly?

Lack of vitamin C can make the elderly easily bruised and make wounds on the skin that do not heal after days. Due to a lack of vitamin C in the elderly, they are also prone to bleeding gums, canker sores, nosebleeds, hair loss, to dry and rough skin that is sometimes reddish in color.

If allowed to continue, vitamin C deficiency in the elderly can be fatal. According to Healthline, a study reports that elderly people who are deficient in vitamin C have a greater risk of stroke than older people who have high levels of vitamin C in the body.

How to suffice?

You can meet the needs of vitamin C for the elderly just by providing enough vegetables and fruits every day (at least 5 servings per day). Some food sources of vitamin C are oranges, kiwi, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, and broccoli. However, if you have problems meeting your vitamin C needs, you can provide a 500 mg vitamin C supplement.

3. Vitamin B12

The last on these list of vitamins that are often insufficient in the elderly is vitamin B 12. Vitamin B12 has a role that is no less important than other vitamins. This vitamin helps cell metabolism to run normally, especially in the cells of the gastrointestinal tract, red blood cells, bone marrow, and nervous tissue.

What are the consequences of vitamin B12 deficiency in the elderly?

Vitamin B12 works to regulate the growth and formation of red blood cells. Thus, the most common result of vitamin B12 deficiency is B12 deficiency anemia or folate deficiency anemia, characterized by 3L (Weak, Tired, Lethargic). A swollen and inflamed tongue can also be a symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency. Cracks in the corners of the mouth can also be a sign of a deficiency of this vitamin.

Lack of vitamin B12 can also cause the elderly to experience nervous system problems, such as sensations of heat, tingling, and/or numbness in the legs, hands, or feet; walking and balance problems; paranoia; hallucinations; easy to get angry; to depression. In addition, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause senility in the elderly.

How to suffice?

You can easily find vitamin B12 in animal food sources, such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, and milk. You can also consume processed products such as bread and plant-based milk. If the elderly have difficulty eating, you can meet their vitamin B12 needs with vitamin supplements.

Before using supplements to prevent the risks that may occur due to vitamin deficiency in the elderly, talk to your doctor first.

That’s the information about 3 important vitamins that are often insufficient in the elderly. Hope this is useful for you and your loved one. 

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