4 Supplements to Support Senior Health

Do you know a senior or aging adult who has difficulty consuming all of the nutrients needed for a healthy diet? Supplements can contain minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and many other ingredients that help support dietary needs. While they are not medications, supplements can be used to improve overall health and help manage some health conditions. Here are some supplements to consider adding to your diet, or that of a loved one:

Vitamin C: Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a nutrient the body needs to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones. Vitamin C is also vital to the body’s healing process, and can help protect cells against the effects of free radicals — molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke and radiation from the sun, X-rays or other sources. Free radicals might play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.  This supplement also helps your body absorb and store iron, the Mayo Clinic reports.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a nutrient the body needs for building and maintaining healthy bones. This is because the body can only absorb calcium, the primary component of bone, when Vitamin D is present. This supplement also regulates many other cellular functions in the body. The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties of Vitamin support immune health, muscle function and brain cell activity. Vitamin D isn’t naturally found in many foods, but the body also makes vitamin D when direct sunlight converts a chemical in the skin into an active form of the vitamin (calciferol). The amount of vitamin D the skin makes depends on many factors, including the time of day, season, latitude and your skin pigmentation, the Mayo Clinic reports.

Vitamin B12: Vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) plays an essential role in red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, nerve function and the production of DNA, the molecules inside cells that carry genetic information. As the body is capable of storing several years’ worth of vitamin B-12, deficiency is rare. However, those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet might be prone to deficiency because plant foods don’t contain vitamin B-12. Older adults and people with digestive tract conditions that affect absorption of nutrients are also susceptible to vitamin B-12 deficiency. Left untreated, a vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to anemia, fatigue, muscle weakness, intestinal problems, nerve damage and mood disturbances, the Mayo Clinic reports.

Fish Oil: Fish oil is a dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids. The body needs omega-3 fatty acids for many functions, from muscle activity to cell growth. Omega-3 fatty acids are derived from food, but they cannot be manufactured in the body. Fish oil contains two omega-3s called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Dietary sources of DHA and EPA are fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and trout, and shellfish, such as mussels, oysters and crabs. Some nuts, seeds and vegetable oils contain another omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Fish oil supplements come in liquid, capsule and pill form. People take fish oil for the anti-inflammatory effects, the Mayo Clinic reports.

Note: The FDA is the federal agency that oversees both supplements and medicines, but the FDA‘s regulations for dietary supplements are different from those for prescription or over-the-counter medicines. Before taking any supplements, individuals should discuss the risks with their physician. It’s important to always be alert to the possibility of a bad reaction, especially when taking a new product.

Learn More About Dietary Supplements for Seniors


Celebrate National Nutrition Month During March 2021

Nutrition is an important element of home care, and since March is National Nutrition Month, this is the perfect month to assess one’s diet and health. This annual campaign was established by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to encourage everyone to learn how to make informed food choices and develop healthy eating and physical activity habits. Everyday Home Care realizes there is no single approach to nutrition and health, so it offers custom wellness services.

Its home care wellness services include meal planning and a daily meal program to help clients customize their plate to reach optimal nutrition. There are a number of ways to ensure that each client’s meal plan is as special as they are. For example, Everyday Home Care caregivers factor in healthy histories, food allergies, dietary preferences and known conditions when curating a daily meal program. 

These factors tie in with the 2021 National Nutrition Month theme, “Personalize Your Plate,” which is something all Everyday Home Care clients can expect. In accordance with guidelines from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there are specific ways in which older adults can obtain the proper nutrition they need. First and foremost, this includes staying hydrated throughout the day. Other ways to build a healthy plate include:

  • Making sure half of each plate consists of fruits and vegetables.
  • Making at least half of all grains whole.
  • Switching to fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.
  • Varying protein choices.
  • Limit sodium, saturated fat and added sugars.
 In addition to these suggestions, Everyday Home Care caregivers provide meals that are enjoyable and of mindful portion sizes. Research shows that people unintentionally consume more calories when faced with larger portions. Oversized portions can be avoided by using smaller plates, bowls and glasses as well.

For those helping to provide care for aging loved ones, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also shared 20 general health tips as part of the 2021 campaign. These tips serve as guiding principles but may vary in effectiveness, depending on a person’s current health status and ability. Authored by Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics staff members, who are registered dietitian nutritionists, this full nutrition tips list includes: 

  1. Eat breakfast.
  2. Make sure half of the plate includes fruits and vegetables.
  3. Watch portion sizes.
  4. Be active.
  5. Get to know food labels.
  6. Fix healthy snacks.
  7. Consult an RDN.
  8. Follow food safety guidelines.
  9. Drink more water.
  10. Get cooking.
  11. Order out without ditching goals.
  12. Enact family mealtime.
  13. Banish “brown bag” boredom.
  14. Reduce added sugars.
  15. Eat seafood twice a week.
  16. Explore new foods and flavors.
  17. Experiment with plant-based meals.
  18. Make an effort to reduce food waste.
  19. Slow down at mealtime.
  20. Supplement with caution.
While clients may find implementing all of these tips at once challenging, Everyday Home Care recommends gradually implementing ones needing improvement throughout the month of March. Use this National Nutrition Month to reconsider what is being consumed daily to work toward a happy, healthier lifestyle. To help evaluate the wellness care needs of a loved one, schedule a free quality care assessment with Everyday Home Care today.

About the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1917, by a visionary group of women dedicated to helping the government conserve food and improve the public’s health and nutrition during World War I. 

Today, the academy represents more than 100,000 credentialed practitioners — registered dietitian nutritionists, dietetic technicians, other dietetics and nutrition professionals holding undergraduate and advanced degrees in nutrition and dietetics, and students — and is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.

Learn More About National Nutrition Month