Diet Plans – How Important are Vitamins

Active ImageIn addition to acting as an antioxidant, vitamin C plays an important role in helping the body absorb iron. It is possible to get enough vitamin C from a well-balanced diet, but stud­ies have shown that some elderly people are at risk for a defi­ciency, especially since the body doesn’t store this vitamin.

Although older people may ingest less vitamin A, they seem to store it more efficiently than younger adults do. Vitamin E deficiencies are rare and not considered a risk for elderly peo­ple. There is some evidence that a high intake of vitamin E from food or supplements may lower your risk for heart dis­ease, cancer and premature aging.

B Vitamins: Folic acid lowers blood levels of a chemical called homocysteine, which is linked to heart attack and may be in­volved in stroke as well. Folic acid also helps in the manufacture of red blood cells, and a deficiency may lead to anemia. A defi­ciency in vitamin B12 also can result in anemia as well as in neu­rological problems like poor balance and impaired memory. A B12 deficiency may develop in older people because they be­come less able to absorb die nutrient. Some older adults may need more B6 in their diets than the 1.6 milligrams needed daily by younger people. A vitamin B6 deficiency can affect immunity.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is especially important to older women because it helps the body absorb and use calcium to retain bone. Older adults typically have lower levels of active vitamin D because they consume less from food. The body can manufacture vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sun­light, but many older people no longer spend sufficient time outdoors, and overexposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer. Minerals: Both calcium and phosphorous are critical to bone health in elderly women. The third player on the bone health team is vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium absorption. Because many elderly women cannot get enough of these micro-nutrients in their regular diet, your doctor may want you to take a supplement.