Should Adults Take Vitamin & Supplements?

Updated on October 6th, 2020
Do Older Adults Need Vitamins

Many people take nutritional supplements and vitamins to improve their overall health. For seniors, vitamins are becoming increasingly popular. Seniors are the age group most probably to take nutritional supplements and multivitamins and, especially women. The most common supplement product for all seniors is multivitamins.

What Vitamins Should Seniors Take?

The task of finding the best vitamins for seniors may be more about whether or not seniors need to be taking nutritional/vitamin supplements at all. There can be both negatives and benefits to taking vitamins.

In truth, individual needs will vary for each person, and speaking to your physician is best before beginning to take any vitamins [1].

Some vitamins can be beneficial for seniors to take.

1. Vitamin D

The requirements for vitamin D increases after the age of 50, particularly for seniors. This is generally because, as they age, their skin stops absorbing nutrients the way it should. It’s also because many seniors don’t spend a lot of time outdoors doors and often don’t get adequate sunlight.

Vitamin D can aid the absorption of calcium, helping to prevent bone decay. 

[Read: Benefts of Vitamin D]

2. Vitamin B12

It is another vitamin which everyone, seniors included, needs to include in their diet. It helps to keep red blood cells healthy and prevent anemia. A deficiency in this vitamin leads to feelings of weakness and fatigue.

[Read: Benefits of Vitamin B12]

3. Dietary Fiber

Eat fiber-rich foods to stay regular. Dietary fiber also can reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes and help lower your risk for heart disease. Eat cereals and whole-grain bread, and more peas and beans — along with vegetables and fruits, which also provide dietary fiber.

4. Potassium

Consuming adequate potassium and limiting salt  (sodium) intake can lower your risk of high blood pressure. Vegetables, fruits, beans, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products are excellent sources of potassium. Also, select and prepare foods with no or little added salt. Add flavor to diet with herbs and spices.

Know Your Fats

Most of the fats you eat should be monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are primarily found in seeds, nuts,  vegetable oils, avocados, and fish. Go with low- saturated fat and trans fat foods to help reduce your risk of heart disease.

However, these are essential vitamins for the elderly because many seniors can’t get sufficient of them in their diet. Many seniors can get the majority of their mineral and vitamin requirements through food. It can be tough to get enough vitamin D from food alone, however, particularly for older adults who need a higher amount.

Similarly, most older adults can’t properly absorb vitamin B12 because they don’t have adequate stomach acid to do so. Vitamin B12 supplements are much more absorbed merely in this case.

B12 and Vitamin D are among the finest vitamins for seniors. However, they are only ever mandatory because if elderly adults can’t get adequate of them in their diet (which only a physician must decide). Most other vitamins are found abundantly in the average diet. This leads us to the next point…

Should the Elderly take Multivitamins?

It’s not that vitamins are not helpful – they are necessary for good health. However, as mentioned above, unless there are restrictions in your diet, many people get adequate vitamins. Seniors do not require supplements more than other age groups for most vitamins, other than the 2 mentioned previously [2].

This means that, in particular, taking multivitamins is unnecessary. The only exception to this is seniors recovering from surgery/injury or who are on restrictive diets. This includes who is vegetarian and those with food allergies.

There is insufficient evidence to indicate multivitamins can prevent chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, et cetera. Unless a physician determines that supplements are necessary, seniors shouldn’t take multivitamins. This is because:

  • Certain supplements can interfere with other medicines you (or your elderly loved one) are already taking;
  • Taking an excessive amount of any vitamin may lead to toxicity;
  • Having to pay for vitamins is an unrequired expense, as many spend a lot on supplements each year;
  • Many older adults can’t cook proper, nutritious food for themselves, or may not have someone who can cook for them;
  • Some of the ingredients in supplements, like the gel caps that have them, may lead to side effects like appetite loss and nausea.
  • While multivitamins aren’t harmful in all instances, they’re generally excessive, and the risk is unnecessary.

Getting adequate of the necessary vitamins for seniors can be done through diet alone. The best way to make sure a healthy amount of minerals and vitamins is by knowing about proper nutrition for the seniors.

So, why are so many seniors taking multivitamins?

Simple: because there is a huge market, and most supplement firms promise things that are still not proven by science. Walk into any medical store, and you will see supplements and vitamins directly marketed at the seniors.

In truth, ‘seniors formula’ products and multivitamins that claim to be the ‘best multivitamins for the seniors’ are just normal multivitamins with more B12 and vitamin D.

Unless there is a severe lack of intake for specific vitamins, as determined by a physician, older adults shouldn’t need to take multivitamins. Minor alterations in the diet are generally enough to cover the dietary requirements of the seniors.

Speaking to a physician is the best way to determine if supplements are suitable for your loved one and you. While a prescription isn’t needed for multivitamins and vitamins, it’s never a great idea to start taking them without first seeing a general practitioner.

Bottom Line 

Staying fit and eating right are essential, no matter what your age. As we get older, our bodies have different requirements, so certain nutrients become particularly important for good health.

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