Top 6 Nutrient Deficiencies in Older Adults

Poor nutritional status is often present among older adults who experience a fall. However, dietary intake and weight loss are often overlooked as potential factors. According to the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN), a disturbingly high number of older adults, 65 years or older, across 20 countries were vitamin deficient. Specifically, older adults were deficient in six micro-nutrients: vitamin D, B1, B2, calcium, magnesium, and selenium. 

“Ageing is often seen as being synonymous with frailty and disability. However, there is significant variation in age-related functional changes in older adults and, as such, widely varying dietary and nutritional needs,” stated the researchers of the BJN study. 

Here is how each of these supplements is key to living a healthy, long life!

Vitamin D

The study found that 84% of men and 91% of women do not get enough Vitamin D. That is a high number!  As you may know, vitamin D is crucial to bone health. Vitamin D helps maintain calcium balance, as it facilitates intestinal absorption of calcium. It also helps keep you healthy by bolstering your immune system. And that’s just the start! Read more about the pros of taking Vitamin D supplements here

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B1 (Thiamin)

Vitamin B1, or Thiamin, helps produce the energy your cells make, in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). The BJN study found that 50% of men and 39% of women aren’t getting enough B1. A thiamin deficiency can affect the cardiovascular, nervous, and immune system, and lead to chronic diseases like wet beriberi (a cardiovascular condition) and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (a neurological disorder). Thiamin deficiency can also cause burning and tingling in the toes and feet, and degradation of muscles.

B2 (Riboflavin)

Riboflavin is another B vitamin (B2). And like thiamin (B1), it’s crucial for growth, energy production, and physical performance. The study found that 41% of men and 31% of women aren’t getting enough B2. If you are riboflavin-deficient, you may struggle with fatigue, digestive problems, vision problems, sensitivity to light.


Did you know that your body contains more calcium than any other mineral? Considering the number of bones we have in our bodies, calcium does seem to be a main ingredient. Yet despite calcium’s presence in the body, many people still aren’t getting enough. 

You may be surprised to know just how calcium-deficient older populations really are. According to the BJN study, 65% of men and 73% of women had inadequate calcium levels.


Magnesium is another well-known mineral in bone health. Magnesium helps your body use calcium, among countless other bodily processes. Magnesium can also influence muscle mass development and performance in older adults. It also plays a large role in calming the nervous system due to its ability to block brain N-methyl D-aspartate receptors (NMDA), thereby inhibiting excitatory neurotransmission. Unfortunately, 73% of men and 41% of women were found magnesium-deficient in the BJN study.


Have you ever heard of Selenium? Selenium is a trace element that is naturally present in many foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Selenium, which is nutritionally essential for humans, is a constituent of more than two dozen selenoproteins that play critical roles in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection.

Essentially, a selenium deficiency can cause a whole host of problems, but some of the more serious ones include higher rates of cancer and heart disease, lowered immunity, and brain aging. 30% of both men and women were selenium-deficient in the BJN study.

Take your vitamins!

These vitamins and minerals work together to help your body function properly. Not getting sufficient nutrients can cause mental and physical effects. No one enjoys taking pills every day as many do as they age to maintain health. There are many ways to take supplements, i.e. powder form that you can mix into smoothies, drinks, and even water. 

If you’re worried that your diet isn’t providing you with all the nutrients you need, it’s never too late to start taking the natural supplements and/or B complex vitamins! Get creative and get those vitamins in daily so that you may live a long and prosperous life!

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