How to Get All the Essential Vitamins When Living in a Care Home

How to Get All the Essential Vitamins When Living in a Care Home

Fundamentally, you should be getting all of the vitamins you need, and in the right amount, from your diet. In a care home, you may be concerned that this isn’t the case. It’s important, therefore, to choose a care home which takes nutrition and diet seriously. Food should be tasty, satisfying and well-balanced. At Eastleigh we pride ourselves on our delicious and varied menus. Take a quick look at a sample menu at an Eastleigh home here.

Before your taste buds really get tantalised and you whet your appetite with the thought of what’s on offer, let’s take a look at the different vitamins that the elderly particularly need to pay attention to.

Vitamin D in Elderly People

Vitamin D helps to regulate calcium and phosphate and as such is essential for bone and muscle health.

Vitamin D in older people needs some individual attention. While we do get some vitamin D from our diets, such as in oily fish and eggs, we largely get it from sunlight on our skin. For active adults spending a reasonable amount of time outdoors between March and September, it is possible to get enough vitamin D from daylight. Obviously, this can pose a problem for the housebound elderly.

If mobility is a problem, or you are taking medication that makes you photosensitive (as many elderly do), you’ll need to take a vitamin D supplement. The Department of Health recommends a supplement of 10mcg for those in care homes.

In addition, you should ensure the care home diet is, like Eastleigh’s, full of oily fish, eggs, yoghurt and even fortified breakfast cereals.

Other Vitamins and Minerals Important for the Elderly

While vitamin D in elderly individuals requires particular attention, you should also pay attention to iron, calcium, the B vitamins and vitamin C.

  • Iron: Important for healthy oxygenation of blood – a care home diet should contain red meat, eggs, pulses, beans, wholegrains and plenty of leafy green vegetables. You’ll also need plenty of vitamin C to help the absorption of iron.
  • Calcium: Essential for strong bones and teeth, the elderly who are at risk of falls need to ensure they have a good amount of calcium in their diet. Calcium is important also for heart health. However, as long as you are eating enough dairy products you shouldn’t need a supplement. A GP will advise if an elderly patient specifically needs a calcium supplement.
  • B Vitamins: Known for their various functions, B vitamins are important for a range of things from eye health to the nervous system. It’s a little harder as we get older to properly absorb some B vitamins, such as B12. A healthy care home diet should be mindful of this and ensure the weekly menu includes items such as salmon, milk, eggs, cheese and some fortified cereals.
  • Vitamin C: Care homes, like any space when there are many people and lots of comings and goings, can be a hot spot for colds. Therefore it’s important to have plenty of vitamin C, a great antioxidant, from dietary sources to ward off the winter bugs and aid speedy recovery. Everyone has different favourite fruit and vegetables. Therefore a good care home diet will involve both variety and choice to ensure everyone gets enough vitamin C.

Vitamin Supplements and Care Home Diets

A well thought out and planned care home diet, delivered by our resident regional catering manager, should provide a variety of choice jam-packed with nutrients, and also be delicious. In most cases, supplements (except vitamin D for the elderly) are not usually needed. You should also be particularly careful of taking supplements if you are on other medication. In these cases, you should check with your GP.

At Eastleigh Care Homes we pride ourselves on the standard of care our residents receive. An important element of this is an exceptional diet where meals are enjoyed and relished. We invite friends and families to join with us, and we’ll forgive you for thinking you’re in a restaurant! Getting all the vitamins and minerals you need in a care home, from your diet, should both be possible and delicious.

We are here to look after your care home needs in Somerset and Devon area, get in touch to find out more and how we can you by simply calling 01769 573166.