May 18, 2022 by Dean Bellefeuille


Vitamins, minerals, and supplements – oh my! Seventy percent of seniors are taking them; but is taking vitamins as an older adult really necessary? After all, a healthy, balanced diet offers seniors necessary nutrients. However, there are deficiencies that would benefit from taking a supplement. Be sure to talk with the physician prior to making any changes, however with their recommendation or approval, consider the following:

Vitamin B12

Deficiencies of vitamin B12 are common in seniors, and even more so for individuals who take specific prescription drugs (particularly metformin or gastric acid inhibitors). With vitamin B12 deficiencies, seniors are prone to developing depression, neuropathy or nerve damage, balance problems, poor memory, anemia, confusion, and dementia.

The NIH recommends 2.4 mcg each day, which can be obtained through a diet rich in clams and fish, meat, poultry, liver, eggs, milk, and fortified cereals. And unlike other vitamins and minerals, even high doses of vitamin B12 haven’t been found to cause harm, according to the NIH.


Calcium is vital for preventing breaks and fractures in aging bones. This is particularly true for post-menopausal women, with an astounding fifty percent of those over age 50 breaking a bone as a result of osteoporosis. However, men are also at risk for serious complications from calcium deficiency. For example, hip fractures are more likely to be fatal for men than women.

The very best natural sources for calcium are salmon, kale, leafy greens, broccoli, and dairy products, but most women over age 50 and men over age 70 aren’t getting sufficient calcium from food alone. The NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements recommends 1,200 mg of calcium daily for women over age 51 and men over age 71, and 1,000 mg each day for men ages 51 – 70.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D and calcium are best friends. They work most effectively when taken together to enhance not only bone health, but the nervous and immune systems and perhaps the heart as well. The best source of vitamin D is sunshine, but aging skin together with the threat of skin cancer can cause roadblocks to getting satisfactory levels.

Recommendations are 15 mcg/600 IU per day up to age 70, and 20 mcg/800 IU per day for anyone over age 71. If vitamin D supplements are advised by a physician, they should always be taken with food for optimal absorption.

Thinking about taking vitamins as an older adult? Let one of At Home Independent Living’s caregivers provide transportation and accompaniment to the doctor’s office to help you find out what supplements would work best for you. Contact us online or at (315) 579-HOME (4663) for more information about how we can help enhance older adult health with professional services for elderly care in Liverpool, NY and the nearby areas.