The best dietary supplements for seniors

Posted at 3:03 PM, Feb 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-19 15:28:14-05

More is not always better in regard to supplements.

According to Craig Stiens, managing pharmacist at Community First Pharmacy, a non-profit pharmacy located in southwest Ohio, multi-vitamins could mean too much of a good thing when accompanied with a balance meal.

“While some of these vitamins are water-soluble and are eliminated in urine daily, some are fat-soluble and can accumulate to unhealthy amounts in your body,” Stiens said. “In general, do not take dietary supplements without first consulting your doctor.”

Stiens also cautioned that some supplements could affect the way certain prescription drugs work and visa versa, so it’s important to always consult your pharmacist when beginning a new supplement.

Monitoring medications and supplements is especially important for older adults. Metabolism slows down as we age, and therefore it may take the liver longer to eliminate certain drugs and vitamins from the body.

However, in some cases, diet alone is not enough. Here are some of the best vitamins and minerals Stiens recommends for seniors:

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It’s for muscle function, blood vessel contraction and dilation, nerve transmission, hormone secretion and more. The calcium we absorb is added to the reservoir of calcium in the human body that makes up the skeleton.

At a young age, bones are constantly being being broken down and remade and humans are able to make more bone than we lose through this process. As we age, that ratio gradually changes — bones tend to break down faster than we can build them back up.

Thus, eating the right foods and increasing calcium intake is extremely important for bone health.

Not all calcium supplements are absorbed well by the body. It is best to take in smaller doses of 500 mg twice a day, rather than taking 1,000 mg before bed, It’s also best to take the supplement while eating, because eating increases stomach acid, which will increase the ability to absorb supplements.
Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and taking the right amount of Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of Osteoporosis, and certain cancers and heart disease. Doctors might recommend a Vitamin D Supplement for individuals who are not getting enough sunlight.

Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is used by all the cells in the body, especially the ones in the brain and spinal cord. Many older adults become deficient in Vitamin B, leading to confusion or agitation. Just like an iron deficiency, a Vitamin B deficiency can lead to anemia, which can lead to fatigue.

Emily Glaser writes about the diverse wellness needs of older adults for Your Time, a Community First Solutions publication for people age 50 and older. 

This story originally published on the Your Time website.