Most vitamin deficiencies are unheard of in developed nations. This is especially true of young people in these nations. We just eat so much food, and such a wide variety, that we meet all our basic nutritional requirements. We live with so much abundance that some children live off one food item for years without suffering a deficiency. But it can’t go on forever. As we grow older we become more vulnerable to deficiencies. This is for three reasons.
First, we do not eat as much. As we grow older our bodies need fewer calories because our metabolism slows right down. This isn’t automatic. If we try and gain more muscle, or do more exercise, we can keep our calorie needs up. But the point is that if you do not make an effort to increase your calorific needs, they will go down over time. And the less food you eat, the fewer vitamins you will eat. For this reason, a switch onto vitamin-focused foods is essential as we grow older.
Secondly, we need more vitamins and minerals. As babies and children we need a lot of nutrients for our small bodies, but this is still less by volume than adults need. And as adults we need a relatively steady amount. But once we pass the age of fifty our cells begin to degrade. The root of our DNA is in our chromosomes, which determine our sex, appearance, and the layout of our organs. At the end of each chromosome we have some arms, called telomeres. These telomeres protect our chromosomes from damage, making sure that when they divide they are healthy. However, as we grow older our telomeres shorten, making us vulnerable to mutations. And a higher intake of vitamins can protect us against mutations by both preventing and fighting them.
And finally, we do not store, use, or recycle vitamins as well any more. Normally our bodies do not absorb more vitamins than they need. Any surplus of water soluble vitamins is secreted in our urine, and any surplus of fat soluble vitamins gets stored for later use. However, if we do not eat enough vitamins our bodies then need to get them from somewhere. Fat soluble vitamins are easy, as we have plenty of stores of them, but water soluble vitamins run out fast. In these instances, we take vitamins and derivatives that have already been used for other purposes and reuse them, making them last as long as possible. But as we age our metabolisms become far less efficient, resulting in us losing more vitamins and storing and recycling less.
For these reasons we need to be aware of the symptoms of vitamin deficiencies. It isn’t enough to assume that we are eating enough vitamins, as we may not be absorbing them, recycling them, or we may simply need much more than before. Knowing the signs of vitamin deficiency and going for a blood test when we suspect a deficiency is the only sure way of telling if we are deficient.
Loss of eyesight.
It’s normal for our eyesight to degrade a little as we grow older, but if you experience a sudden decline in vision, especially if you never had eye troubles before, it may be a vitamin deficiency.
Vitamins A, E.
Again, it is normal to get ill more frequently as we grow older. But if you find you are continually ill, that you get the same infections repeatedly, or that your illnesses are suddenly severe, it could be a deficiency.
Vitamins A, B5, B9, C, D.
Reduced bone density.
The main culprit for osteoporosis and brittle bones in old age is hormonal imbalances and mineral deficiencies. However, the right vitamins can lessen the severity of your symptoms.
Vitamins A, D.
Loss of color and strength in hair and skin.
Grey hair is normal as we age, but grey skin is not. If you find your hair is brittle and dry, and your skin is pale and sore, you could have a deficiency.
Vitamins A, B2, B3, B9, C, D.
Loss of cognitive functions.
Many assume that cognitive decline is an essential part of ageing, but in reality if you find your cognitive processes sharply down turning, a deficiency is likely.
B vitamin complexes, D, E.
Lethargy, weakness, and fatigue.
When you can’t summon the energy to move, moving feels difficult, and your limbs are heavy, you could be experiencing a severe deficiency.
B vitamin complexes, D.
Depression and mood changes.
Mood changes are a normal part of being human, but if you experience persistent mood swings for no apparent reason, you could be suffering a deficiency.
B vitamin complexes, D.
Too often we consider weight loss to be a plus, but unexplained weight loss is often a sign of medical concerns.
Vitamins B1, B5, B12.
Anemia can be hard to detect, but if you’re pale and bleed and bruise easily, you almost certainly have a vitamin deficiency.
Vitamins B2, B9, C, K.
If you would like to learn more about vitamin needs of older adults, be sure to get my new book in Kindle titled Healthy Vitamins Handbook – Over 50s Edition or from CreateSpace at: