Vitamins for Seniors
Your health and nutrition become increasingly important as you age, but you can’t always get what you need naturally or from food. This makes it necessary for many seniors to take vitamins. Important vitamins for older adults include B12, vitamin D, magnesium and calcium. These can often be taken in tablet form.
What Is a Multivitamin Supplement?
A multivitamin is essentially a nutritional supplement that you take to ensure you are getting the vitamins and resources you need to remain healthy as you age.
Typically, you can get most of the nutrition you need from your diet. For example, many fruits and vegetables offer a healthy source of vitamin C. This is the natural way that people remain vitamin rich and keep their bodies functioning.
But natural sources of vitamins are not always enough for older adults. Even with a perfectly healthy diet, you may not be getting enough of all the vitamins you need. This becomes particularly important as you age since vitamin deficiency can lead to or exacerbate some health problems.
Your body may also not be getting enough vitamin due to an existing health condition or deficiency.
This is where multivitamin supplements come in. They offer an easy way to get everything your body needs to remain healthy. Supplements are often available in tablet form and can be taken daily.
Why Do Seniors Need to Take Supplements?
When you were younger, you probably got all your essential vitamins through your diet, especially if you eat healthy.
But as you get older, your body doesn’t absorb vitamins the same way it used to. Your diet may not have changed at all, but your body will struggle to get the same nutrients that it did 10 or 20 years ago.
There are other senior-specific issues that can lead to a vitamin deficiency as well. Many older adults take regular medications, and some of these medicines may flush important nutrients and minerals out of your system.
This can quickly exacerbate an already-existing vitamin deficiency.
Taking supplements is very common among seniors and can potentially lead to a significant improvement in quality of life. Your body needs vitamins to function properly and getting the right amount can help you have more energy and feel healthier.
Pros and Cons of Taking a Multivitamin Supplement
In most cases, taking multivitamins can be helpful to your body, allowing it to recoup lost nutrients and function properly. But it’s important to consider the downsides as well.
Pros of Taking a Multivitamin
Taking multivitamins is often an important way for seniors to get the vitamins and minerals they need for their bodies to function properly.
- Fills in nutritional gaps
- Provides the vitamins and nutrients needed to keep your body healthy
- Can increase your energy level
Without taking multivitamins, it may be difficult to get the nutrients you need strictly from your diet or environment.
Cons of Taking a Multivitamin
While multivitamins can be very beneficial, there are some limitations to taking them as well.
- There is no effect if you don’t need supplements
- It will not increase your lifespan
- It will not prevent disease
Essentially, taking multivitamins can only do so much. They can help you be healthier but don’t necessarily increase your lifespan or help cure or prevent diseases.
They also have no effect on your body if you do not have a vitamin deficiency and don’t need them.
What Vitamins Are Commonly Needed for Seniors?
Your body may not be successfully getting certain vitamins from your diet or environment anymore. While all vitamins are important, there are some that are particularly critical to seniors.
- Benefits both red blood cells and nerve function
- Helps with brain health
- Helps maintain or improve memory
- Critical to bone strength, which is a serious issue for seniors
- Vitamin D
- Helps absorb calcium and can improve immune system
- Benefits muscles and helps balance blood sugar
- Helps important organs like heart and kidneys, as well as nerves
- Vitamin C
- Benefits aging hair
- Vitamin E
- Benefits aging skin
Taking the multivitamins that you need can benefit many different parts of your body and bodily functions.
Things to be Cautious of When Taking Multivitamins
One important thing you should be cautious of before taking multivitamins is any possible interactions. Some vitamins can interact with certain medications, which can be dangerous.
If you are on any medications, you should be sure to check with your doctor and discuss your options before taking multivitamins.
Since there are many options out there for multivitamin supplements, you should also be cognizant of the ones that you choose to take, including the company that produces them.
The FDA enforces current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) regulations. You also may want to look into quality control information, which you can access through the NSF, Consumer Lab or the United States Pharmacopeial Convention.
When to See a Doctor
It is typically wise to check with your doctor before deciding to take any multivitamins. They may be able to offer guidance on which vitamins you should be regularly taking and in what quantity.
You also should talk to your doctor if you feel like you may have a vitamin deficiency or are not getting enough nutrients. They may suggest alternatives, like diet modifications, before they recommend multivitamins.
It’s critical to be transparent with your doctor about any medications you’re taking as well. Some vitamins and medications cannot be mixed and could create serious health concerns.
Clearing which vitamins you need to take with your doctor can help ensure you are making the best decision for your health.
6 Cited Research Articles
- National Institute on Aging. (2021, April 23). Dietary Supplements for Older Adults. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/dietary-supplements-older-adults
- National Institute on Aging. (2021, January 2). Vitamins and Minerals for Older Adults. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/vitamins-and-minerals-older-adults
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2020, September 21). Current Good Manufacturing Practice Regulations. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/pharmaceutical-quality-resources/current-good-manufacturing-practice-cgmp-regulations
- ConsumerLab.com (n.d.). Brands Tested. Retrieved from https://www.consumerlab.com/brands/
- National Science Foundation. (n.d.). Dietary Supplements Claims, Labels and Regulations. Retrieved from https://www.nsf.org/knowledge-library/dietary-supplements-claims-labels-regulations
- U.S. Pharmacopeia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.usp.org/verification-services/verified-mark