At the Gardens at Barry Road in Kansas City, Missouri, we encourage residents to adopt healthy habits that can help them live life to the fullest. As part of our commitment to promoting good health, our assisted living community offers daily specials and restaurant-style dining, making it easier to get all the vitamins you need to stay healthy. However, even when you eat nutritious meals, it's possible to be deficient in one or more vitamins. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common vitamin deficiencies in seniors.
Your body needs vitamin B-6 to process macronutrients, such as fats, proteins and carbohydrates, efficiently. Poultry, chickpeas, tuna, salmon, fortified cereals and dark leafy greens are all good sources of this important vitamin. A mild B-6 deficiency doesn't usually cause any symptoms, but if the deficiency worsens, it can cause depression, confusion and skin problems. You may also have trouble fighting off infections.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a component of connective tissue, making it one of the most important vitamins for humans. It also promotes wound healing and helps you absorb iron from the foods you eat. As an antioxidant, vitamin C blocks some of the damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that form during some chemical reactions. By blocking the effects of free radicals, vitamin C and other nutrients may help reduce the risk of arthritis, cancer and heart disease. Foods high in vitamin C include bell peppers, citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli and strawberries.
Vitamin D is essential for bone health, as it helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the bloodstream. This vitamin also aids in the absorption of calcium, making it especially important for seniors who are concerned about developing osteoporosis. Natural sources of vitamin D include salmon, tuna, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms. Milk, orange juice, breakfast cereals, yogurt and soy products may also be fortified with vitamin D to increase their nutritional content and reduce the risk of deficiency.
Vitamin E helps the immune system function properly and prevents clots from forming in the coronary arteries. It's also an antioxidant, so it works to prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals. When combined with zinc, beta-carotene and vitamin C, vitamin E may prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) from developing in people who have an elevated risk of the disease. AMD damages the part of the eye responsible for sharp vision, causing wavy lines, blurry vision and other symptoms.
People who are deficient in vitamin E may lose control of their body movements, have difficulty fighting infections and experience peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that usually occurs in the hands or feet. The best sources of vitamin D include sunflower and safflower oil, almonds, peanut butter, pumpkin, red bell pepper, asparagus and other plant-based foods.
One of the most common causes of vitamin deficiencies in seniors is dietary restrictions associated with other health conditions. To control high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, for example, many seniors follow the DASH diet. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is an eating plan that limits the consumption of full-fat dairy products, fatty meats and sodium. By limiting these foods, seniors may have difficulty getting enough of each vitamin.
Seniors may also be unable to eat a variety of vitamin-rich foods due to food allergies and intolerances. For older adults with lactose intolerance, it's difficult to get vitamins and other nutrients found in dairy products. It may also be difficult for some seniors to digest fruits and vegetables, reducing the amount of vitamin C and vitamin E consumed each day. In people with irritable bowel syndrome, for example, it's especially difficult to digest citrus fruits, an important source of vitamin C.
If you take medications for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you may have trouble absorbing nutrients from foods and beverages. This is because certain medications block stomach acid, making less of it available for important digestive functions. When you consume foods containing vitamin B-12, for example, the B-12 arrives in your stomach bound to other molecules. Stomach acid and enzymes work together to break the chemical bonds, releasing the free form of B-12, which then moves to the small intestine to be absorbed.
If you're concerned about vitamin deficiencies, the first thing to do is to talk to your primary care provider. This is especially important if you have chronic health conditions. Your PCP may order lab tests to determine whether you have a vitamin deficiency or find out if a deficiency is mild or severe. Based on the results, you may need to adjust your diet or take vitamin supplements each day. Some supplements interact with other substances, so make sure your PCP knows about any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or home remedies you're using.
Your PCP may also recommend other lifestyle changes to prevent complications associated with a vitamin deficiency. If you're deficient in vitamin D, for example, you may need to leave your assisted living apartment a few times per week to walk or engage in other physical activities. This may help strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis.
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8300 N.W. Barry Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64153
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Reception Desk: (816) 584-3200