The role of vitamins in the diet of the elderly I. Fat-soluble vitamins

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Abstract

Following a discussion on the daily energy and protein requirements of elderly people, the authors will go on to talk about vitamin needs and the role of the four fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). They point out that vitamin requirements in old age do not essentially differ from adult people’s, but they must take account of the fact that the body’s vitamin stores might get filled up, which may reduce vitamin needs, on the one part, but the altered physiological processes may increase them, on the other. Regarding the case of fat-soluble vitamins, reduced fat absorption, decreased vitamin storage capacity of the liver, reduced dietary intake, partial deficiency of digestive enzymes, and absorption disorders in the intestines may all lead to vitamin deficiencies. Problems may also arise due to multiple vitamin overdose developed either as a consequence of overconsumption of vitamin tablets or because the body’s vitamin stores are constantly filled up to maximum capacity. Positive and negative changes resulting from the consumption of several times the daily dose recommendations are covered as well. The authors show that A, D, E, or K vitamin deficiency occurs very rarely in the case of a normal diet; however, great care must be taken in order to meet vitamin D and, simultaneously, calcium requirements so that to avoid osteoporosis and an increased risk of bone fractures in elderly people. The paper discusses the fat-soluble vitamin needs of the elderly and, where necessary, specifies the requirements for men and women separately, while also touching upon those foodstuffs and methods that can contribute to the optimal satisfaction of the elderly people’s vitamin needs.

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