Ensure good health by making sure that you are getting your vitamin D and vitamin B levels right for older age...
Many people use a new year as a time for making resolutions and improvements to their life or their health. These are usually things like losing weight, drinking less, or stopping smoking. All are really good things to do. Not many people however decide to increase their intake of vital vitamins to ensure a good physical and mental health.
Among others, vitamin D and B vitamins are essential for health, especially in older age. These vitamins support healthy blood, bones, brain, immune system and the body’s ability to use energy, so it’s important you ensure that healthy levels are retained throughout your life. However, vitamin D and vitamin B deficiency is more common in older people and can increase chances of developing osteoporosis and other age-related diseases.
Vitamin D is essential for good bone health, fighting depression and protecting against colds. A lack of vitamin D can increase your risk of developing dementia. Deficiency is very common; more than half of adults in the UK do not have enough vitamin D.
B vitamins can help keep your brain and memory functions healthy. Most adults are well below healthy required levels of these, especially older adults who are the ones who need these health promoting vitamins most of all.
As we get older, our bodies deplete more nutrients and retain less so it’s important to look at choosing more vitamin rich foods and also consider taking supplements which are available from most supermarkets, pharmacies and health stores.
So where can you get more of these vitamins?
This is usually obtained through the sunshine, by exposing your bare skin to sunlight; your skin converts the ultraviolet B rays into vitamin D.
As elderly people have thinner skin than younger people, they are unable to produce as much vitamin D, leaving older people more at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
In the winter, it is also good to remember that we will be lacking vitamin D. When there is no sunlight, or for elderly people, vitamin D can be found in: fatty fish such as salmon or trout, canned tuna, fortified orange juice, supplements, egg yolks, fortified cereals, and cod liver oil.
If you do like a little blast of the warmth then you can either use your own ultraviolet lamp, or go to a tanning salon. Safe doses of UV light can be very healthy.
Vitamin B comes in different types and all are essential for good health, each having vital functions, including helping us to release energy from foods.
All B vitamins are essential, however B12 (cobalamin) is one of the most important and helps in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. A deficiency in Vitamin B12 can display symptoms similar to that of dementia. If you are no longer able to absorb this from food, it is possible to have injections. B12 can help with retaining a good mental health, it can also help with memory and health for people living with dementia.
B12 deficiency is most common in older adults and vegetarians (due to the fact that this vitamin is only usually found in animal protein). B12 can be found in shellfish, beef liver and fish such as mackerel. For a vegetarian source, it is found in fortified soy products and cereals. It can be taken as a supplement alone or as a B complex supplement which includes the following B vitamins:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin) – keeps nerves and muscles healthy and is found in vegetables, eggs, fruit, peas, liver, wholegrain breads.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – keeps the skin, eyes and nervous system healthy and is found in dairy products and rice.
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – keeps the nervous and digestive systems healthy and is found in dairy, meat, fish and wheat flour.
- Panthothenic acid – helps to release energy from the foods we eat. It’s found in almost all meat and vegetable sources.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – helps our body to store and use energy, helps form haemoglobin. B6 is found in lots of foods such as bread, pork, fish, eggs, peanuts, potatoes, milk.
- Folic acid – works together with B12 to form healthy red blood cells and reduces the risk of central nervous system defects. It’s found in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, chickpeas, liver, brown rice.