The best vitamins to take for healthy aging can be easily incorporated into your lifelong diet. Knowing the most important vitamins for common health concerns like bone density, immune system strength, metabolism, and more can help you protect your health now and in the future.
It’s never too soon to start thinking about healthy aging and building nutritious habits, says Angel Planells, a dietitian who specializes in aging and gerontology and former president of the Washington State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Planells shares five vitamins worth taking and how to obtain them through natural, delicious sources.
“Consuming a wide variety of foods will improve your chances of getting all vitamins naturally through your diet,” says Planell. If you’re considering taking a vitamin or multivitamin, meet with a registered dietitian or your health care team, he says: “There could be drug-nutrient interactions, medications, and competing factors that may increase or decrease your absorption.”
Vitamin A stands out as one of the most important vitamins for bone development, vision, and skin.
The right amount of vitamin A can help fend off osteoporosis, a bone disease affecting an estimated 54 million Americans. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one in two women and one in four men 50 and older live with this condition, which causes bones to become brittle.
Vitamin A may also make bones less likely to break. A 2015 study of more than 5,000 men and women 55 and older found those with a sufficient vitamin A intake had a significantly lower risk of fractures.
In addition, vitamin A may help you see better at night. It produces rhodopsin, a photopigment found in the part of the retina associated with night vision.
What’s more, vitamin A benefits your largest organ, your skin. It boosts hydration and repairs damaged skin, such as bruising.
Take advantage of the following dietary vitamin A sources, says Planells:
Recommended daily vitamin A intake:
Women: 700 micrograms
Men: 900 micrograms
“B vitamins play a role in maintaining optimal health and well-being,” says Planells. “The B vitamins have an impact on your energy levels, brain function, and cellular metabolism.”
Specifically, vitamin B assists in converting food to glucose, which provides energy. Similarly, the eight B vitamins metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. A vitamin B deficiency can lead to excessive thirst, diarrhea, and blurry vision, according to Planells.
Recommended daily B vitamin intakes:
Vitamin B2: 1.1 milligrams for women, 1.3 milligrams for men
Vitamin B3: 14 milligrams for women, 16 milligrams for men
Vitamin B6: 1.5 milligrams for women, 1.7 milligrams for men
Vitamin B12: 2.4 micrograms for both women and men
Commonly touted as a treatment for everything from high blood pressure to a cold, most of vitamin C’s power comes from its ability to enhance immune defense. The vitamin helps produce much-needed white blood cells to fight sickness and infection. Due to this important function, vitamin C benefits also include wound healing and collagen production. Additionally, vitamin C facilitates the body’s absorption of iron.
“People with vitamin C deficiencies may develop scurvy, which resembles tiredness, weakness, irritability, weight loss, and muscle aches,” says Planells.
Recommended daily vitamin C intake:
Women: 75 milligrams
Men: 90 milligrams
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, meaning it protects cells from damage. This process occurs through vitamin E’s strengthening of the immune system and promotion of a healthy nerve system. A 2019 study in Circulation Research, the journal of the American Heart Association, found a 22% lower mortality rate among senior study participants with a sufficient vitamin E intake.
Recommended daily vitamin E intake:
Women and men: 15 milligrams
Yet another vitamin that bolsters bone health, vitamin K defends against osteoporosis. The vitamin has also been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, due to its ability to control blood flow and protect blood vessels. Vitamin K helps blood clot when necessary, preventing excessive bleeding.
Recommended daily vitamin K intake:
Women: 90 micrograms
Men: 120 micrograms
These vitamins worth taking are commonly recommended vitamins for seniors. For help addressing specific dietary concerns, consider consulting a dietitian or your doctor.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). “Dietary Guidelines 2015 – 2020.” https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/