Geriatric Diet – Vitamins and Minerals (Part 2)
A well-balanced diet comprises major nutrients from a variety of food sources. Vitamins and minerals on the other hand, which form part of the nutrients are only required in small portions by the body. Nevertheless, they are important in maintaining the immune system, healing injuries, and regulating metabolism in the body. This is particularly important amongst the elderly as they are unable to produce nor absorb nutrients as effectively.
This article focuses on the importance of vitamins and minerals as well as the food sources.
Calcium helps our bodies build and maintain healthy bones. It has also been known to lower blood pressure. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium in the body and aids in the maintenance of bone density; therefore, preventing osteoporosis. It’s recommended to take servings of vitamin D-fortified milk, cheese, yoghurt, or calcium-rich foods such as dark green leafy vegetables and canned fish with soft bones.
Iron and Vitamin B12
Iron is responsible for the production of hemoglobin which carries oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the rest of the body, while vitamin B12 keeps your brain and nervous system healthy. The best sources of iron include red meat such as beef, liver, kidney, lamb, pork, ham, corned beef, but as mentioned in the previous article, it’s important not to consume too much of red meat due to the risk of unsaturated fats causing cholesterol. Healthier choices of iron and vitamin B12 are also found in lean meat in some fish and seafood, like seaweed.
Not consuming enough iron causes the body tissues to suffer from lack of oxygen, which results in feeling tired and lethargic, otherwise known as iron deficiency anemia. This in turn may result in heart problems like arrhythmia or an enlarged heart.
Vitamin C has antioxidant properties which are believed to prevent cancer and heart disease, and also improve one’s immune system. It is also involved in the production of collagen, which is important in the production of new, healthy skin. Taking a vitamin C-rich food like orange juice at meal time can also help your body to absorb iron properly.
Potassium is an electrolyte, meaning that it is capable of conducting electrical impulses in the body. It works with other minerals to control the movement of nutrients as well as heart rate, pH balance, energy level and brain function. It’s integral in cell function by reducing blood pressure and even lowers your chances of getting kidney stones. It is often found in food like bananas, prunes, and potatoes.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These fatty acids are important for people of all ages including elderly people as they help prevent inflammation which can cause cancer, rheumatoid, arthritis, and heart disease. It has also been found to slow down the progression of Macular Degeneration (AMD) which a condition that leads to poor vision. Evidence has also shown that these fatty acids can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and keep the brain alert. They can be found in fish mainly sardines, tuna, mackerel, and salmon. They are also found in flaxseed, soybeans, canola oil, and walnuts. Nutritionists recommend a serving of omega-3 fatty acids twice a week
Magnesium plays a crucial role in about 300 physiological functions. Some of the important ones include keeping normal cardiac function in your heart, immune system functioning, maintain bone health, helping to maintain nerve and muscle function, adjust blood glucose levels and even aiding in the production of energy and protein. It is mainly found in whole grains, nuts, fresh fruit, and vegetables.
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