Vitamin and Mineral intakes as part of a balanced diet are literally critical for health at all stages of life. As we get older, our bodies change as does our metabolism, kidney and liver function, and, partly as a consequence of that, our bodies find it more difficult to absorb vitamins in our food, as well as synthesise them from our environment (Vitamin D, for example, is synthesised in our bodies from exposure to sunlight). So, what are the nutrients older adults need? And how can we as carers ensure that we are providing meals that are in line with caring for the elderly?
Calcium is used in many ways around the body – with the predominant (and most well-known) one being maintaining healthy bone density. This is of particular concern for those suffering from Osteoporosis, an age-related condition that causes bones to become brittle because of a lack of available calcium, which is used to regenerate them. Fortified Milks (those with added calcium), as well as oral supplements, are likely remedial and/or preventative treatments.
Vitamin D (aka calcitriol) is important in regulating the body’s absorption of other important nutrients (including calcium!) in the body in two ways, one in the digestive system, where it helps the natural absorption of calcium and phosphorus in your food and drink, and in the kidneys – where it helps prevent the same elements entering your urine and being wasted in the toilet! Vitamin D is produced by exposure to direct sunlight – and so it is important for older people to try to spend at least 15-30 minutes outside every day when it’s sunny, and a bit longer if not. Sunscreen is not to be used for Vit-D booster walks, so if the UV rating is very high, then stay inside until the sun is lower in the sky, either in the late afternoon or early morning.
B12 (aka cobalamin) is very important in the regeneration and maintenance of nerve and blood cells – it also is an important preventative vitamin that helps prevent megaloblastic anaemia, which makes those who suffer from the condition feel tired, weak and lethargic. B12 comes exclusively from meat products (so vegetarians and vegans must find plant-based foods that are artificially fortified with B12). The best sources of B12 are Beef Liver and Clams, and beyond that fish, other meats, poultry, eggs and dairy products such as milk and cheese.
Vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid) is a fabulous all-round booster that can help the immune system, the healing of injuries and wounds, and prevent cancer by acting as an antioxidant. Vitamin C intake is the underlying goal of the ‘Five-a-day’ programme issued by the government several years ago – and five portions of fruit and vegetables each day will be sure to keep you fit and healthy!
….and many more!
Diet Supplement Tablets for older people have been marketed for decades. Looking on the nutritional information on a bottle of such tablets can give you a great insight of what an older body needs – such as zinc, magnesium, glucosamine, and many more!
Ensuring a balanced diet.
Some older people have reduced mobility, or have difficulty eating, or even both – and it can be very difficult to ensure that they’re being nourished properly. Care Homes such as Paxton Hall offer carefully designed and balanced meals – making food in care homes some of the most balanced and nutritious. For carers, it’s also important to look after yourself – and that’s where respite care comes in. To learn more about how we care for older people, and how we can help your family live better, get in touch.