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utritional Medicine
Nutritional Programs for the Elderly

© Elson M. Haas MD

When high amounts of supplemental fiber, such as wheat bran, are used (I recommend eating more high-fiber foods), more vitamins and particularly more minerals may be needed to make up for those pulled out through the colon by the fiber. Extra B vitamins are often needed to support function. Usually, double levels of most of the B vitamins are suggested. I think doubling the intake of most of the hard-to-absorb minerals, such as chromium and zinc, can help as well.

Remember, common deficiencies in the elderly include vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, and C, folic acid, and the minerals calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, chromium, and other trace minerals. Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D are important to support a continued healthy skeleton. Plenty of water and good quality vegetable oils (cold-pressed) are also important to keep the skin and tissues healthy. The following table offers some guidelines for setting up a good supplement program.

Dietary Nutrient Program for the Elderly*
(Range — RDA to Optimum)

Calories Men — 1,900–2,600
Women — 1,600–2,200
Protein60–80 g.

Vitamin A5,000–10,000 IUs Chromium200–500 mcg.
Beta-carotene10,000–20,000 IUs Copper2–3 mg.
Vitamin D200–600 IUs Fluoride*1.5–4.0 mg.
Vitamin E**60–1,000 IUs Iodine*150–300 mcg.
Vitamin K100–300 mcg. Iron10–20 mg.
Thiamine (B1)1.5–50.0 mg. Magnesium400–800 mg.
Riboflavin (B2)1.5–50.0 mg. Manganese3–15 mg.
Niacin (B3)16–100 mg. Molybdenum150–500 mcg.
Niacinamide (B3)50–100 mg. Phosphorus*800–1,200 mg.
Pantothenic Acid (B5)7–500 mg. Potassium*2–5 g.
Pyridoxine (B6)2.5–50.0 mg. Selenium150–300 mcg.
Pyridoxal-5-phosphate20–50 mg. Silicon50–100 mg.
Colabamin(B12)***10–500 mcg. Sodium*1.5–3.0 g.
Folic acid400–800 mcg. Zinc15–60 mg.
Biotin150–400 mcg.
Choline250–1,000 mg. Hydrochloric acid5–10 g.,
Inositol250–1,000 mg. (as betaine or glutamic acid) or 1–2 tablets
PABA25–100 mg. (prior to or with meals)
Vitamin C60–3,000 mg. Digestive enzymes1–2 tablets
Bioflavonoids125–500 mg. (pancreatic enzymes)
(after meals)
Boron1–2 mg. Flaxseed or cod liver oil1 Tablespoon
Calcium800–1,500 mg.
Chloride*2.0–4.0 g.

***As with other life stage support programs, nutrients easily available, such as sodium, chloride, phosphorus, sulfur, and potassium, are not usually supplemented unless there is a deficiency. Of these, potassium may be more commonly supplemented due to poor nutrition or medication.
***Can go up to 1600–2400 IUs for intermittent claudication.
***Vitamin B12 is commonly used as an injection in the elderly, at least several times a year, to help build up tissue stores.

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About The Author
Elson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
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