Common Nutrition related problems in the Elderly

Author: Michelle Dateling (B.Optom, Dip.Sports Vision; MBA)

When we get older, our requirements for certain vitamins and minerals changes. This is to compensate for age-related changes that happen to our bodies. Micronutrient deficiencies are often common in elderly people due to several reasons such as their reduced food intake and a lack of variety in the foods they eat. 

Elderly people often require higher levels of certain vitamins and minerals to maintain their health because as we age our bodies become less efficient at producing, handling, and absorbing nutrients. The Elderly are also at a higher risk for developing certain diseases, and that risk can be increased by a lack of certain nutrients. 

The following vitamins and minerals are needed by the elderly:

  • Vitamin D3 is an important vitamin for bone health as it helps Calcium to be absorbed. It also plays an important role in maintaining strong muscles and healthy nervous and immune systems
  • Calcium helps to slow bone loss and protects against fractures and osteoporosis
  • Vitamin B12 supports the body’s nerve and blood cells
  • Vitamin B6 is involved in metabolism, transporting oxygen in red blood cells, and processes involved in mood, memory, and immunity
  • Magnesium is involved in building muscles, bones, and nerves, and regulating blood sugar levels and blood pressure
  • Omega-3’s assist in cardiovascular disease, dementia, and age-related eye diseases like Macular Degeneration
  • Vitamin K2 helps Calcium stay in the bone by directing calcium out of the blood and soft tissue

Common nutrition related problems in the elderly are:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Anemia
  • Malnutrition
  • Constipation
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Obesity

Vascular Calcification is also a hallmark of ageing in the elderly and is accelerated in patients with pre-existing risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. Vitamin K2 deters Calcium plaque build-up (arterial calcification) for heart health and Vitamin K2 has been shown to reverse existing calcification.


  1. Institute of Medicine (US) Food Forum. Providing Healthy and Safe Foods As We Age: Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2010. 5, Nutrition Concerns for Aging Populations.
  2. Thomas DR. Vitamins in aging, health, and longevity. Clin Interv Aging. 2006;1(1):81-91. doi:10.2147/ciia.2006.1.1.81
  3. Csapó, János & Albert, Csilla & Joe, Prokisch. (2017). The role of vitamins in the diet of the elderly I. Fat-soluble vitamins. Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Alimentaria. 10. 10.1515/ausal-2017-0009.

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