You need the same vitamins in your golden years that you needed when you were younger. But you should focus on certain vitamins as you age, since your body is a bit more fragile and susceptible to age-related illnesses. Because some supplements could interfere with your prescriptions, alert your doctor to any new vitamins you decide to take.
B-12 for Nervous System
Vitamin B-12 maintains your central nervous system, creates new red blood cells and builds genetic material in cells. Your vitamin B-12 recommendation doesn’t increase up as you get older; it stays at 2.4 micrograms daily, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine reports. But your body has a more difficult time absorbing it in later life. The older you get, the less stomach acid your body produces. As your stomach acid decreases, your ability to pull vitamin B-12 out of foods and thus absorb the vitamin also goes decreases. Vitamin B-12 can pass through your digestive tract without ever being absorbed, possibly creating a deficiency that can lead to nerve damage, fatigue and numbness and tingling in your limbs.
Vitamin D for Bone-Building
It’s natural to lose some bone tissue during your golden years, especially as a woman. You can delay the onset of bone loss and minimize your risk of osteoporosis and fractures, however, by getting enough vitamin D. It allows your body to absorb the bone-building mineral calcium, keeping your skeleton in tip-top shape. Vitamin D even goes a step further and boosts your immune system strength, minimizing your risk of getting sick. After age 70, your vitamin D requirement increases from 15 micrograms a day to 20 micrograms a day.
Versatile Vitamin C
You’ve probably heard about vitamin C’s role in boosting your immune system, but it has so many other benefits. The antioxidant job of vitamin C is neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise be free to damage cells, upping your chances of suffering from chronic disease. Vitamin C is responsible for making collagen, a type of connective tissue. Collagen holds tissues, muscles and bones together and helps wounds heal if you have an injury. Vitamin C also plays a role in forming teeth and bones, and in strengthening your blood vessels. You need to get 75 milligrams of vitamin C daily. If you smoke, however, you’re more likely to have higher levels of free radicals in your body. In this case, you’ll need an additional 35 milligrams of vitamin C above your recommendation.
Vitamin A for the Eye
As an older woman, your chances of developing age-related macular degeneration go up. Such macular degeneration causes small yellow deposits to form under your retina, the layer of your eye involved in processing light for clear images. Over time, these deposits interfere with your vision and can permanently damage eye cells. Vitamin A includes a bunch of antioxidant compounds, like beta-carotene, that can help slow down the onset of vision loss by protecting eye cells. Your recommendation for vitamin A is 700 micrograms each day. While you won’t be able to prevent or cure age-related macular degeneration, by meeting your vitamin A needs, you could delay the progression.
- Colorado State University Extension: Water-Soluble Vitamins
- Colorado State University Extension: Fat-Soluble Vitamins
- Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Estimated Average Requirements
- Joslin Diabetes Center: What Are the Best Vitamins and Minerals to Take?
- American Society of Retina Specialists: Age-Related Macular Degeneration