Vitamins and minerals for older people

January 2018


While maintaining a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables is something we all know to be important, there are specific vitamins and minerals which we may need to focus on as we age. Those who live with limited mobility may benefit from certain vitamins to alleviate the symptoms of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, as well as to boost energy and ward of depression, which is particularly important in the dark and cold winter months. In this article, we look at some of the most important vitamins and minerals for older people as well as the supplements you can take.

Vitamin D

Many people are at risk of a vitamin D deficiency during the winter, due to the lack of sunlight. As our body creates most of our vitamin D in reaction to sunlight on our skin, it’s particularly important to spend as much time as possible outdoors. While this may be slightly intimidating when you usually need the assistance of a stairlift at home, even 15-30 minutes outside will do wonders for your levels of vitamin D.

As a lack of vitamin D can cause bone pain and muscle weakness in extreme cases, it is advisable to take supplements if you are over the age of 65. You can buy vitamin D supplements at most pharmacies and supermarkets, but it’s recommended that you stick to roughly 10 micrograms per day. If you have any questions or concerns, it’s best to talk to your GP before you begin taking any supplements. Only a small amount of foods such as oily fish, eggs, fortified fat spreads and fortified breakfast cereals contain this important vitamin. So if you’re looking for a way of dosing up naturally, you may wish to incorporate these ingredients into your diet.


Many of us will remember being told to drink plenty of milk as children to help our bones to develop. This is because of calcium, a vital mineral which also plays an important role in muscle contraction, the release of hormones and transmitting messages through the nerves, as well as helping your blood to clot normally. With such a huge range of benefits, it’s easy to see why doctors recommend that we maintain strong levels of calcium. Milk, cheese and yoghurt are all excellent sources of calcium, as well as green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, and nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts.

Calcium deficiencies can result in confusion or memory loss, depression, muscle cramps and easy fracturing of the bones, so it’s especially important for the elderly and those with limited mobility to keep up their calcium intake. While you can easily get your recommended dose of calcium in your diet, if you are concerned, speak to your GP about taking calcium supplements.

B vitamins

There are many types of vitamin B which all support different functions within the body, from helping to break down energy from food to keeping your skin, eyes and nervous system healthy. As with calcium, vitamin B12 is found in various foods, such as beef, lamb, cod, salmon, milk, cheese, eggs and some fortified breakfast cereals. However, as we get older it can become increasingly difficult to absorb vitamin B12. You may notice that you feel tired, weak and experience shortness of breath when you are deficient in vitamin B. If you’re concerned, speak to your doctor about taking vitamin B supplements. They are available in most supermarkets and pharmacies and it’s recommended you take it in doses of 2 micrograms or less daily.


As we age, absorption of magnesium becomes more difficult and can be affected by various medications. This important mineral helps to increase energy, calms nerves and anxiety and can even help those who struggle to sleep through the night. Most people should get the recommended amount of magnesium from their diet (300mg a day for men and 270mg a day for women). If you want to ensure you’re getting enough of this mineral, be sure to eat green leafy vegetables, nuts, brown rice, fish, meat and dairy. Although it’s uncommon to experience a magnesium deficiency, if you are concerned at all, consult your GP before taking any supplements.

Vitamin C

Many of us worry about catching a cold in the winter and one way to help ward off a common cold, or to fight disease and infections, is by taking enough vitamin C. If you already have a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables, it’s likely that you’re getting all the help you can from this vital vitamin. However if you are worried about not getting enough vitamin C, perhaps if you’re not eating five or more portions of fruit and veg each day, it’s perfectly safe to take supplements. It’s also worth increasing your intake of foods rich in vitamin C, including peppers, citrus fruits, kale, chard, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes.


Omega-3 fats are fatty acids which have been found to reduce symptoms associated with old age, such as rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been suggested that Omega-3- fatty acids help to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, which often reduces vision in elderly people. With so many benefits, it’s recommended that those with limited mobility maintain a good intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. Fortunately, they can be found in salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel. If you don’t eat fish regularly, it’s perfectly fine to take Omega-3 supplements to boost your intake. These are available at pharmacies and supermarkets. Alternatively, snack on walnuts which are also rich in Omega-3.

While it’s safe to take supplements to support your health, it’s also worth incorporating foods rich in these recommended vitamins and minerals into your diet. We asked certified holistic nutritionist and best-selling author Joy McCarthy of Joyous Health to recommend some of her favourite recipes which are perfect for trying out in the winter:

Kale, sweet potato and quinoa hemp bowl – Kale is rich in magnesium and the hemp seeds contain Omega-3.

Roasted root vegetables – Kale contains calcium and sweet potatoes are a source of vitamin C.

Mini sweet potato frittatas – Eggs contain Omega 3, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

Although you may have heard it many times before, a healthy and balanced diet really is the best way to guarantee you get the right amount of vitamins and minerals. But if you are concerned about not getting enough from your diet alone, your GP will be able to advise the safest way to take supplements.

This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Vitamins and minerals for older people
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