It’s not an uncommon situation. An older adult living alone starts experience frequent fatigue, loss of appetite, and even joint pain. Getting up and down the stairs isn’t as easy as it used to be, and some days its hard to even get out of bed because they are so tired. They start wondering- are they finally getting old? Is it about time to start using those days of the week pill boxes? Should they be taking vitamins? If so, which vitamins are safe and which ones aren’t?
According to US Health News, more than 40 percent of men and women in the United States use multivitamins- the most commonly used being dietary supplements. People often take dietary supplements for a variety of reasons with different goals in mind, and with so many brands and methods of consumption, it can be overwhelming to know whether dietary supplements are right for you, or where to start if you are interested. Many aging adults are looking to these products as a means to slow down the hands of time, but how do we know which vitamins are best for adults over the age of 50?
A nutritional supplement by design, is a product intended to be used in conjunction with a diet and contains at least one dietary ingredient such as vitamins, or minerals. Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that your body needs in small amounts to stay healthy and functioning at an optimal level. The amount we need depends on a number of things like age, gender, weight, and on which vitamin or mineral you’re taking. Since your body can only make limited amounts of vitamins for itself, the rest of that nutrition must come from a healthy diet.
As individuals age, their nutritional needs change due to their bodies absorbing and storing nutrients differently. Many older adults do not eat a sufficient amount of calories thus they are rarely obtaining an adequate amount of the essential nutrients their bodies need. In these cases, you may want to consider adding a supplement to make up for the nutrients your diet fails to get you on a daily basis.
Remember, you should not treat yourself with over-the-counter supplements without first talking to your doctor or a certified nutritionist. Reason being, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) checks prescription meds and antibiotics, as well as over-the-counter drugs like pain and cold medicines. The same cannot be said for dietary supplements. The FDA simply does not watch over dietary supplements in the same way as they do with other medicines, because they don’t consider dietary supplements to be medicine. Thus, just because a product is on a store shelf, does not mean it is safe or that its ingredients are being regulated.
Talk to your doctor or a qualified pharmacist who knows how these substances could react with current medications you take, your diet, and recommend a trusted brand. A professional will work with you and help you decide whether you need to change your diet or take supplements to compensate for any of these common deficiencies seen in aging adults:
Stay proactive. As you age, vitamin and mineral supplements can certainly keep you healthy in moderation and when used as directed. However, it is important that you use them appropriately and along with healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise routine. By speaking to your doctor and pharmacist about your supplement use, you can reap the benefits of supplementation while avoiding any unwanted or unexpected side effects. Make sure you always do your research, attempt to understand the science behind what each nutrient does, and most importantly, listen to your body. If you start taking a new supplement and notice adverse affects, talk to your doctor immediately.
Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
5100 Paint Branch Parkway College Park, MD 20740
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine NCCAM Clearinghouse
P.O. Box 7923 Gaithersburg, MD 20898
1-888-644-6226 (toll-free) 1-866-464-3615 (TTY/toll-free)
National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus
Office of Dietary Supplements National Institutes of Health
6100 Executive Boulevard Room 3B01, MSC 7517 Bethesda, MD 20892-7517
https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/whats-your-plate/vitamins-minerals https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/dietary-supplements http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2013/05/25/the-best-vitamins-and-minerals-for-seniors http://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2006/2006-01/2006-01-5137