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Common Nutritional Deficiencies Among Senior Citizens

By Rick Cohen, 9:00 am on

As the human body ages, it sometimes fails to utilize vitamins and minerals as well as it once did, and there are some common vitamins and minerals that many senior citizens may be unknowingly lacking. Here are some of the most common nutritional deficiencies among the senior population, brought to you by a trusted provider of senior home care Milwaukee families count on.


Iron helps distribute oxygen throughout the body by way of red blood cells and contributes to a number of other metabolic processes. Iron deficiency often results in fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and even shortness of breath. Most often, iron deficiency in the elderly is related to significant blood loss.

A typical method of obtaining sufficient iron in the body is through the consumption of red meat. As many seniors lessen the amount of red meat in their diet, over-the-counter iron supplements can correct this deficiency.


Calcium is the main building block of healthy bones, but calcium levels invariably decrease as the body ages. When a person is calcium deficient, osteoporosis, or brittle and weak bones, can occur as well as softening of the bones, ultimately increasing the risk of falls, fractures, and broken bones.

Dairy foods, such as milk and cheeses, remain excellent sources of calcium. For those on a dairy-free diet, many green vegetables provide a high amount of calcium, including kale, broccoli, bok choy, and collard greens. Fruits such as oranges and figs also are high in calcium.

Vitamin B-12

A relatively small percentage of seniors are B-12 deficient, but the 10 to 15 percent figure still remains too high. Though the absorption rate of B-12 doesn’t decrease with age, the amount used by the body does. A B-12 deficiency can present a host of problems, including muscle weakness, unsteady gait, incontinence and various mental issues. Growing evidence also shows a B-12 deficiency in seniors with Alzheimer’s. 

Shellfish, such as clams and crab, are excellent sources of B-12. Other fish, such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel, also provide an adequate dose of B-12. In addition, a discussion with a medical professional about B-12 supplements will help ensure the recommended dosage is met.

Vitamin D

Almost a third of the country may suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D works with calcium to support the growth of healthy bones. In addition to osteoporosis, other effects of a vitamin D deficiency include a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, asthma, and impaired cognitive judgment. 

Sunlight is the most common way to get vitamin D, but as the body ages the ability to synthesize sunlight lessens its effect. Dairy foods such as milk and eggs provide high levels of this important vitamin, as do many fish. Supplements are also useful.

Maintaining a healthy diet can become more challenging with age, as everyday tasks like grocery shopping and cooking are more difficult to accomplish independently. If your loved one could use additional support, turn to Home Care Assistance. With hourly or live-in home care in Milwaukee, your loved one will have help with a wide variety of tasks any time of day or night. Give us a call at (262) 782-3383 to learn more about our care services and how they can help your loved one maintain a happy, healthy life in the comfort of home.

Senior Health: Most Common Nutritional Deficiencies