• Vitamin Deficiency in Older Americans

  • by Crystal Tillett

It’s inevitable. As we get older, our bodies require more attention to keep them healthy. Whether it is more exercise or vitamin supplements, it is important our body is receiving the nutrients that it requires. Vitamin deficiency is common among older and can be dangerous if not handled. It is important to maintain healthy vitamin levels in the body, as deficiencies can cause cognitive impairment, muscle weakness, and bone pain.

There are three major vitamins that seniors are most prone to have a deficiency in, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folic acid.

Vitamin B6:
Vitamin B6 helps maintain proper nerve function. This tends to happen if older adults have problems absorbing nutrients. When you are B6 deficient, you may experience some of these symptoms:
1. Tingling or numbness in feet and hands
2. Sensitive skin
3. Blood problems (anemia)
4. Possible higher risk of heart problems

Vitamin B12:
Vitamin B12 is necessary because it keeps nerve cells healthy, keeps blood cells happy, and helps produce DNA. When you are B12 deficient, you may experience some of these symptoms:
1. Diarrhea/constipation
2. Fatigue
3. Loss of appetite
4. Balance issues
5. Shortness of breath (during exercise)
6. Poor concentration
7. Depression
8. Pale skin
9. Tingling in hands and/or feet

Folic acid: 
Folic acid provides numerous benefits to your body. It helps prevent heart disease and cancer. It also produces new red blood cells to the body. When you are experiencing a folic acid deficiency, you may experience these symptoms:
1. Anemia
2. Fatigue/weakness
3. Poor appetite/weight loss
4. Irritability, forgetfulness, and other unusual behaviors
5. Headaches
6. Diarrhea

Lifestyle Changes
Generally, older adults who are at risk of having a vitamin deficiency don’t practice the best habits. It is important to remember to take better care of yourself as you get older. Some causes of vitamin deficiency are:
1. Poor nutrition
2. History of stomach/small intestine partially removed
3. Long term medication (heartburn and antacids)
4. Alcoholism

Vitamin supplements can be an option when wanting to make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs. Vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid can all be taken in supplement form. They can be found at your local drug stores and sometimes grocery stores. Remember that, before taking vitamin supplements, it is good to talk with your doctor about what kinds you need/should take. Also, be sure to take the appropriate dosage which will be listed on the bottle.

This article is for informational purposes only.