Vitamins

vitamins

Know your vitamins

Did you know that as you age you start to lack certain vitamins ? Elderly people often find it hard to get enough vitamin D from diet and sunlight alone and many also lack vitamin B12 which aids memory.

Do you take daily supplements of vitamins and minerals because you think they help keep you fit and healthy? Join the club. I did wonder the other day though what each component was actually doing for me and decided to look into it. Here is what I have learnt.

Vitamins and minerals do different things to keep the body healthy and there is no one food that contains all of them. It is important that an elderly person has a healthy, balanced diet with a good mix of foods to ensure that you’re getting everything you need. This isn’t always achievable. Complan and Fortisip can help as can an age appropriate multi-vitamins supplement.

The table below contains information about many of the vitamins needed their function in the body, and what foods contain them.

Vitamins and minerals Function in your body Food sources include…
Vitamin A
  • help you to see in dim light
  • keep your skin and hair healthy
  • strengthen your immune system
  • oily fish (such as mackerel)
  • liver
  • carrots
  • fortified margarine
  • cheese
  • dark green leafy vegetables (such as spinach)
Vitamin D
  • grow and keep bones and teeth healthy
  • help your body to absorb calcium
  • oily fish
  • eggs
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • fortified margarine
Vitamin E
  • protect your body from damage caused by free radicals (these are produced by your body’s normal chemical reactions and are thought to damage body cells, which may lead to the development of diseases such as cancer)
  • vegetable oils
  • eggs
  • wholegrain foods
  • green vegetables
  • nuts
Vitamin K
  • blood clotting
  • build strong bones
  • dark green leafy vegetables
  • meat (particularly liver)
  • potatoes
  • cereals
Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
  • break down and release energy from food
  • maintain muscle tissue
  • keep your nerves working properly
  • bread
  • potatoes
  • milk
  • meat
  • wholegrain and fortified breakfast cereals
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • maintain good vision
  • build tissue
  • break down and release energy from food
  • produce steroids and red blood cells
  • help your body to absorb folic acid
  • milk
  • meat (particularly liver)
  • eggs
Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • break down and release energy from food
  • meat
  • flour
  • eggs
  • milk
  • fortified breakfast cereals
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • keep your nerves working properly
  • break down and release energy from food
  • meat
  • potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • broccoli
  • cereals and grains
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • break down and release protein from food
  • produce haemoglobin
  • chicken
  • fish
  • eggs
  • brown rice
  • oats
  • grains
  • some types of nut
Vitamin B12
  • produce red blood cells
  • keep your nervous system healthy
  • process folic acid
  • meat
  • liver
  • milk
  • fish
  • eggs
Folic acid (folate)
  • produce red blood cells
  • keep your nervous system healthy
  • green leafy vegetables
  • some types of fruits
Biotin
  • break down and release energy from food
  • liver
  • kidneys
  • wholegrain foods
  • nuts
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • help your body to absorb iron
  • keep cells and tissues healthy
  • fresh fruit (particularly citrus fruits)
  • sweet potatoes
  • green vegetables
Sodium chloride (salt)
  • regulate fluids
  • digest food
  • processed foods
  • table salt
Potassium
  • regulate your body fluids
  • potatoes
  • vegetables
  • green vegetables
  • chicken
  • dairy products
  • bananas
Calcium
  • build strong bones and teeth
  • keep your muscles and nerves functioning
  • blood clotting
  • milk
  • cheese
  • fortified bread and flour
  • green leafy vegetables
  • nuts
Magnesium
  • break down and release energy from food
  • activate enzymes in your body – enzymes help complex reactions to occur
  • control the amount of calcium in your blood and bones
  • green leafy vegetables
  • nuts
  • dairy products
Iron
  • produce red blood cells
  • red meat
  • liver
  • wholegrain flour
  • green leafy vegetables
Zinc
  • produce new cells and enzymes
  • repair tissue
  • break down and release energy from food
  • meat (particularly liver)
  • seafood (particularly oysters)
  • milk
  • bread
  • cereals
Copper
  • produce red blood cells
  • keep nerves and the immune system healthy
  • nuts
  • shellfish
  • offal
Manganese
  • make and activate enzymes
  • bread
  • wheatgerm
  • nuts
  • avocados
  • peas
  • tea
Molybdenum
  • help enzymes function
  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • cereals
Selenium
  • help enzymes function
  • protect cells from damage
  • brazil nuts
  • seeds
  • fish
  • eggs
Chromium
  • enhance the action of insulin (insulin helps cells to absorb glucose, where it’s converted to energy)
  • wholegrain foods
  • lentils
  • spices
Iodine
  • produce thyroid hormone
  • oily fish
  • seaweed
Phosphorus
  • build bones
  • break down and release energy from food
  • dairy products
  • eggs
  • meat
  • fish
  • soya beans
  • soya products
  • lentils

 

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Caron

Award-winning blogger and care columnist for Devon Life magazine, Caron also campaigns for recognition of the needs elderly people and their carers. Designer and creator of the award-winning Dementia Assistance Cards which are free to all, and helping thousands of people globally Caron is passionate and committed to making a difference

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