Older adults are vulnerable to nutrient deficiency due to factors such as reduced intestinal nutrient absorption from food and lower calorie intake. While men over 70 generally require fewer calories than when they were younger, their need for certain micronutrients increases. Supplementing these nutrients may be necessary to prevent deficiency. Talk to your doctor about your nutrition status and recommended supplements.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, and most of it is incorporated into bones and teeth. Maintaining optimal calcium levels is crucial for older adults to keep their bones strong. When calcium levels in the blood become deficient, the body removes calcium from bone to keep blood levels within range. A 70-year-old man needs a total daily intake of 1,200 milligrams of calcium -- whether it's from food or supplements -- to keep bones healthy. Sardines, salmon, tofu, soy milk and low-fat dairy such as yogurt, cottage cheese and milk are all good calcium sources.
Along with calcium, vitamin D plays a crucial role in maintaining bone density, which protects bone health and fights osteoporosis. The recommended dietary intake for men over 70 is 800 international units daily. Supplementing the entire amount may not be necessary since a few foods -- fish, dairy and fortified cereals -- contain vitamin D, and the skin makes some from sunlight. Evidence suggests that supplementing up to 700 international units benefits bone health, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.
Magnesium and Older Adults
Older adults are at risk for magnesium deficiency due to factors like decreased intestinal absorption and low dietary intake. A deficiency in magnesium prevents your body from properly utilizing vitamin D and calcium, which leads to bone loss. It may be wise to supplement magnesium, although it's not known if doing so will prevent bone loss. The recommended dietary intake of calcium for men over 70 is 420 milligrams per day. Many foods in your diet contain magnesium, including almonds, cashews, spinach, avocado, yogurt, bananas and whole-wheat bread.
B vitamins play a role in energy production and cognitive function, and issues such as low dietary intake and poor absorption mean older adults may benefit from supplementing. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to B-12 deficiency due to reduced absorption from food. The recommended intake is 2.4 micrograms, and you can get it from fish like trout, salmon and tuna, as well as milk and fortified cereals. Older adults need more B-6 than younger adults and often fail to get enough from their diet. Men over 70 need 1.7 milligrams daily Good sources are chickpeas, tuna, salmon, chicken breast and fortified cereals. Seniors also may not be getting enough folate, which is found in various foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, as well as fortified cereals, beans and rice. The recommended daily allowance is 400 micrograms.
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrients for Older Adults
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Magnesium
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Folate
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B-6
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B-12