What Are Some Common Vitamin Deficiencies Seen With Age?
Vitamin deficiencies in older adults may be caused by decreased food intake, changes in taste, smell, hearing and vision, loss of teeth, ongoing illness or medications. For example:
- Loss of teeth can result in decreased food intake and a diet favoring a limited number of pre-prepared pureed foods. In these cases, it is important to identify foods that need to be modified in consistency and those that can be eaten as is (for example, fresh bananas) to prevent vitamin deficiencies.
- In older adults a diet lacking zinc can contribute to a loss of taste. This can be remedied with a zinc supplement.
- Acid production in the stomach slows with age decreasing the amount of iron and vitamin B12 absorbed. This may lead to anemia. Illnesses like ulcer, hemorrhoids, and colon cancer can also cause blood loss leading to anemia. Regular use of aspirin as an anti-inflammatory at higher doses can also cause blood loss in the stomach and contribute to anemia.
A nutritionally balanced diet and routine physical checkups help to prevent disease and maintain health during a lifetime.