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Top 10 Deficiencies in Typical Senior Diet


Staff member
Feb 16, 2024
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Are you weary of articles and experts telling you how poor your diet is? You’ve lived this long, right? I too, may be guilty of these proclamations. However, my approach frequently brings the phase ‘grain of salt’ to mind. And of course, I’m not referring to the saltshaker.

Our bodies are amazing, they can deal with lots that we throw at them, or put in them. We survive bad injuries, bad habits and bad diets. You may continue to endure all of these.

If you just want to ‘endure’, you might ignore or take the following suggestions with that aforementioned “grain of salt.” But if you want to give the body a boost, help its immunity and health, you might at least consider the top 10 deficiencies of essential elements in your diet.

I suspect most of you are on the right track. You may simply need to choose one or two extra safeguards against deficiencies.​

Top 10 Deficiencies

You don’t have to eliminate anything from your dinner menus or hurried breakfasts. Simply add a bit more.

Pick the one or two foods you prefer from each element, and you’ve conquered the typical deficiencies in the American diet. These particular deficiencies are common for seniors especially.

In the post, Supplements – Schlup-plements! Are you Resistive to Buying Supplements? I shared a shopping list chart to evaluate any vitamin/mineral products you are taking. [There is a print-friendly version at the end of that post.] Yes, you can conquer all 10 deficiencies with supplements. That’s probably an even easier way to confidently meet RDAs (or higher requirements). But I love to eat!​

Get it From Our Food or Not?

If you’re like me and want to get more from your plate even if you are taking supplements, take a look at these food choices below. [While they may not cure everything, remember that these elements are packed with power, they may even protect against memory loss and dementia according to some physicians.]

One issue to consider is that many times, unless we are keeping a food diary, we think we’re consuming the good stuff more often than we are. You might purchase an item and have it at the house for a week, you eat it once, or twice. Still, when unconsciously evaluating your own consumption, you may be thinking you are getting your ‘daily’ dose. But maybe not. Supplements can help if that is the case.

Still, supplements or not, for me there’s greater satisfaction, and pleasure, munching on the good stuff as opposed to swallowing a capsule. Although admittedly, I still swallow the nasty capsules. [Sorry, I usually find them unpleasant.]​

Adding to your Choices

We accept that these elements in our food probably don’t totally ‘cure.’ Still, they may ‘supplement’ our health and protect us from aging earlier than necessary. Our diet (and avoiding deficiencies) is low-hanging fruit vital for physical and brain health.

Reminder: those elements which are categorized as “essential” (such as Omega 3s) are essential to maintain health and essential to ingest, as they cannot be made by your body.

One more note about ‘brain health.’ I was recently looking into a manufactured supplement that claims to boost ‘neuro IQ,’ a product of which I have been skeptical. A well-known, and often disliked billionaire, promotes it. I was more skeptical.

A Harvard Health article explains that “brain supplements” often focus on some of the elements below (like Omega 3s, Vitamin E, B) in many types of proprietary combinations. It describes that while food choices like the Mediterranean diet, or the DASH diet, can indeed improve cognitive function, it’s more difficult to determine if the same synergy of elements in foods is working in supplements as well. The jury is out, but they recommend not buying supplements singling out ‘brain health’. Overall, what is good for the whole body is normally good for cognitive ability as well.​

Food Choices


Food Sources. Kidney beans, spinach, sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt, broccoli, cantaloupe, bananas, nectarines and dates. [Good, but lesser amounts in dried peaches, apricots, prunes and raisins.]​

Omega 3s

Note: Omega-3s are essential fatty acids. There are three types, by abbreviation they’re known as ALA, EPA and DHA. Sometimes you will see EPA and DHAs called “Marine Omega 3s” because they come mostly from fish. They can also be converted, although not very efficiently, from ALA (which is more frequently from plants).

Food Sources: Fish is highest, including salmon, mackerel, herring, oysters, sardines, anchovies, caviar and fish oils. For vegans, Algal oil is made from algae high in Omega 3. For those who don’t like fish (for shame), canola oil, flaxseed /flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans and cod liver oil (oh my goodness, no thank you. Congrats to the brave ones). Products with a bit less of omega-3s but still good, include hemp seeds, spinach, Brussel sprouts, some types of eggs, and minimally meat or dairy especially if grass-fed.​


Note: Mineral Magnesium is in most multi-tabs.

Food Sources. Whole grains, nuts, green leafy vegetates, and yay, chocolate.


Note: supplements or food ingestion is especially important for those not using iodized salt.

Food Sources. Surprising to many, a good source of iodine is dairy, like eggs and other dairy. However, good news for vegans, seaweed is one of THE best sources.​


Food Sources. Sardines, beans, seeds, green leafy vegetables, organ meats, egg, edamame.​


Food Sources. Dairy, dark green leafy vegetables, boned fish (as in most canned fish). Some products fortified with extra calcium (can even include those like orange juice).​

Vitamin D

Note: See article on Vitamin D-Quick update for Winter. Sunlight is an important source for some.

Food Sources. Fish, egg yolks, fortified products (like milk, yogurt, cereals that are listed as “fortified with Vit D”).​

Vitamin K

Note: See article The Other Vitamin K – Guest Writer — Aging with Pizzazz

Food Sources. Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, raw spinach, roasted cashews and soybeans. Natto, a fermented soy product is probably the highest value of vitamin K-2; chicken breast has some. (All the other sources are listed based on their K-1 content.)​

Vitamin A

Food Sources. ‘Colorful’ Diet. Sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, sweet red pepper, broccoli, tomatoes.​


Note: Supplementation is vital for vegans and may be important for vegetarians. Pescatarians, probably have no problem. On the positive side, sublingual B-12 tabs are one of the more pleasant to take.

Food Sources. Organ meats, shellfish, eggs and milk products.​


I said you could take these suggestions with a grain of salt (iodized of course). But consider how simple these changes are. Seniors are often lacking in these essentials, and all we need to do is eat more (of the good stuff).

You don’t even have to eliminate the occasional chips and ice cream. If extra food seems difficult to remember, okay, double check your supplements. Both of these approaches make it easy to grasp the low-hanging fruit for aging well.

Title Picture: Woman with fruit, author unknown, licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED​

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