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Staying Healthy in the Golden Years

Kharia J. Holmes, M.D., of Carroll Health Group Primary Care, provides more tips for older adults to stay healthy:

While everyone's nutritional needs are different, are there any common nutritional deficiencies you see in older adults?

In older adults, we commonly will see Vitamin D deficiency. In addition to avoiding the sun, as is often recommended, as we age our kidneys do not process Vitamin D as well as it used to. This deficiency has been closely associated with increased falls, muscle weakness and depression. People highest at risk for Vitamin D deficiency are those who homebound and have limited sun exposure; those who are obese; and those who have osteoporosis. 

Vitamin B12 deficiency is also common in older adults, primarily due to the inability to absorb this vitamin from foods. Typically, patients over the age of 50 are recommended to either eat foods fortified with Vitamin B12 or take an over-the-counter supplement to receive enough of the vitamin; check with your health care provider to see what is right for you.

Calcium is another nutrient that we do not absorb well as we age. Compared to younger adults, people over the age of 60 only absorb about one-third of the calcium they ingest. This decreased absorption affects the strength of our bones. Adults over 60 are encouraged to ingest 1200mg of calcium a day or eat foods fortified with calcium. However, those with renal failure or impaired renal function should discuss with their health care provider how much calcium they should ingest.

Why is staying active important for older adults? What are some ways they can increase their activity levels?

Patients with chronic illnesses – coronary artery disease, diabetes, heart failure – can take an active role in their health. I suggest: eating healthfully; quitting smoking; drinking alcohol in moderation (if any); and getting plenty of physical activity. This last one is crucial. 

Physical activity not only strengthens the muscles that you are using to engage in that activity, but it can also help strengthen your heart as well.  It also plays a key part in keeping older adults active and vital.  

Dr. Holmes sees patients at the Carroll Lutheran Village Medical Suite. To make an appointment, call 443-605-1031.