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Fighting Common Senior Vitamin Deficiencies

All people need to consume a certain amount of vitamins to maintain healthy bodies and minds. This becomes even more crucial in the senior years. The staff at Home Care Assistance, a trusted Westfield elderly care agency, highlights come common vitamin deficiencies among the elderly and how to prevent them.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential to maintaining healthy nerve function and red blood cells. The elderly are especially susceptible to B12 deficiencies due to a loss of intrinsic factor, which is necessary to absorb the vitamin and gastrointestinal disorders such as H. pylori. Vitamin B12 deficiency is diagnosed through blood tests and is treated with oral B12 supplements or injections. Common symptoms of B12 deficiency include:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Balance problems
  • Mental confusion and personality changes
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea or constipation


Most people associate folate with pregnant women due to its role in preventing certain birth defects. However, folate is necessary for brain function and heart health throughout life. Our ability to absorb folate decreases as we age, meaning deficiencies are common among the elderly. Signs of a folate deficiency include:

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Sore tongue
  • Headaches
  • Pale skin

Consuming foods such as citrus juices, cereals, and breads fortified with folate can help your loved one prevent this common deficiency.

Vitamin D

It can be difficult to obtain adequate amounts of vitamin D from dietary sources alone. Renal and hepatic disorders and certain drug therapies can make seniors particularly susceptible to vitamin D deficiency. A mild deficiency can result in symptoms such as muscle weakness and an increased risk of bone fractures. One of the best ways your loved one can prevent a vitamin D deficiency is by getting adequate exposure to sunlight and drinking milk or other beverages fortified with the vitamin.

Vitamin C

Inadequate dietary intake, smoking, and kidney dialysis can cause vitamin C deficiencies in seniors. If your loved one has a vitamin C deficiency, he or she may exhibit symptoms like slow wound healing, bruising, bleeding, swollen gums, depression, and lethargy. Your loved one can prevent the deficiency by eating foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus, or by taking vitamin C supplements.

Learn more about promoting senior nutrition from the experienced staff at Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are available around the clock to help with meal prep, grocery shopping, and many other tasks, and we also offer specialized Parkinson’s, stroke, and dementia care for Westfield seniors. For more information, call one of our friendly Care Managers at 908.450.9400 to schedule a complimentary consultation.