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Supplements and Healthy Aging for Seniors

It can sometimes be hard for seniors to get all of their nutrients through eating a balanced meal, which is where supplements can come in.


You might not know this, but as we age, we need fewer calories to thrive. So, it’s especially important that those calories are rich in nutrients. But here’s the challenge: According to, senior bodies are less efficient at absorbing key nutrients. Seniors can also lose some ability to taste. It’s why they often choose sweet or salty foods first, which aren’t as nutritious.

While food is the best nutrition source according to the National Institute of Health’s Institute on Aging, some seniors might need a boost from supplements. We’ve compiled a list of the best supplements for seniors to discuss with their physician. Together, you can decide if any or all of them would be beneficial to you.

5 Supplements Worth Discussing with Your Doctor

The following list shares five of the best supplements for seniors and also includes foods that are a good natural source of the nutrient. As with any health recommendations, be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning any supplement regimen.

  1. Vitamin B12: When it comes to healthy aging, B12 is essential for optimal brain function, and even a mild deficiency can put you at risk for dementia. Equally concerning, many older adults take medication for acid reflux or to control blood sugar, and these medications can also deplete your B12 level. For these reasons, the Institute of Medicine advises adults over 50 to get most of their B12 from supplements. Check with your physician on the recommended dosage for your needs.
    Also eat these foods: Fish, meat, poultry, clams, eggs, milk and milk products
  2. Vitamin D: Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and to protect against illness and infection. It may also help protect against certain diseases like cancer, type 1 diabetes and others. Getting 10 to 15 minutes of sun can help the skin produce Vitamin D. Unfortunately, aging diminishes our ability to absorb it. What’s more, if you don’t go outside often, it’s likely you could be deficient in this important vitamin. Check with your physician on the recommended dosage for your needs.
    Also eat these foods: Tuna, mackerel, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, fortified cereals, fortified yogurt, fortified juice
  3. Protein: As you age, it gets harder to build and maintain muscle mass. Why is that important to know for senior health? According to the SHIELD study, muscle mass is essential for a healthy immune system. In fact, adults ages 65+ require higher amounts of protein than young adults, and some can need almost double the amount depending on their nutritional status or if they have an acute or chronic disease. For this reason, protein powder is one of the best supplements for seniors. Adding whey protein powder into a daily shake is a great way to ensure you get the daily requirement. Check with your physician on the recommended dosage for your needs.Also eat these foods: Beef, chicken, beans, almonds
  4. Calcium: Older adults tend to consume less calcium in natural forms like dairy products and certain leafy vegetables. Because it plays a role in maintaining strong bones and fending off fractures. It’s important to take supplements prudently, however, because recent studies by the Mayo Clinic show that too much calcium can  create an increased risk of heart attack. Check with your physician on the recommended dosage for your needs.
    Also eat these foods: Three servings per day of low-fat milk and other dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese, kale and broccoli, and juices fortified with calcium. If you can’t consume dairy products, talk to your doctor about whether you should take a supplement.
  5. Potassium: This mineral is essential for proper heart function and bone strength. It has also been shown to reduce the risk of kidney stones, lower blood pressure., and reduce the risk of cancer and digestive disorders, among other benefits. Many diuretics leach potassium out of your system, as does excessive sweating and smoking, among other causes. Check with your physician on the recommended dosage for your needs.
    Also eat these foods: Bananas, prunes, potatoes, avocadoes, peanuts, citrus fruits, milk, leafy green vegetables

The three vitamins and minerals below are also among the best supplements for seniors. Be sure to include them when you and your doctor discuss what’s best for your health:

  • Magnesium – helps maintain a strong immune system, a healthy heart and strong bones.
  • Vitamin B6 – helps protect nerves and form red blood cells.
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) – some studies link ALCAR supplements with fighting age-related fatigue and cognitive decline.

Find a Community Focused on You and Your Good Health

Now that you know a little more about the best supplements for seniors, find out about some great places to retire where maintaining your optimum health and independence are a top priority. Use our community locator tool to find a retirement community that fits your criteria.

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Where You Live Matters is powered by the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), a respected voice in the senior housing industry. ASHA primarily focuses on legislative and regulatory advocacy, research, and educational opportunities and networking for senior living executives, so they can better understand the needs of older adults across the country.