Why Multivitamin for Seniors?
Your goal is to eat a well-balanced diet that meets all of your nutritional needs through food. But you may not get enough variety from food every day. Senior multivitamins are designed to fill gaps in your diet by supplementing vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive.
Pros of taking a multivitamin for seniors
As you get older, your body may not absorb nutrients as a natural consequence of age or because of medications you take. Multivitamins may help:
- Provide extra nutrients where you need them
- Boost your energy
What Vitamins and Minerals Do I Need and Why?
Vitamin B12. Adults of any age should get 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 each day. This helps your body make red blood cells and promotes nerve function. With age, your stomach lining may naturally thin, limiting your ability to absorb vitamin B12.
Low levels leave you at a greater risk for heart disease and weaken your cognitive abilities. Get vitamin B12 naturally in your diet by eating:
- Animal products
- Fortified grains and cereals
- Nuts and seeds
Calcium. Men ages 51 to 70 need 1,000 milligrams per day, and women in that age range need 1,200 milligrams per day. All adults over 70 should also strive for 1,200 milligrams per day. Calcium is vital for strong bones. As you age, you become more likely to get osteoporosis, or thinning bones. Weak bones break more easily if you fall, and calcium helps lower this risk. You can get calcium from food by eating.
- Dairy products
- Leafy greens
Vitamin D. Adults 51 to 70 years old need 15 micrograms each day. If you’re older than 70, you need 20 micrograms per day. Don’t get more than 100 micrograms a day, though.
helps your body absorb calcium, aiding in bone health. It also benefits your body’s defenses, or immune system. Your skin absorbs vitamin D from the sun, but if you live somewhere with less sun, you may need to supplement. You can get vitamin D naturally in your diet by eating:
- Egg yolks
- Fatty fish like salmon
- Fortified cereals and grains
- Fortified milk
Men of any age need 420 milligrams per day, and women of any age need 320 milligrams per day. Magnesium is good for your muscles, promotes healthy nerves, and balances blood sugar levels. You can get magnesium from food by eating:
- Whole grains
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
Men of any age should get 3,400 milligrams per day, and women of any age should get 2,600 milligrams per day. Potassium is good for your heart, kidney, and nerves:
A lack of potassium may lead to kidney stones and high blood pressure. Get potassium from food by eating:
- Fish, meat, or poultry
- Spinach, tomatoes, and broccoli
Choosing a Multivitamin for Seniors
No single brand of multivitamin is best. Many have flashy labels and make strong claims to entice you to choosing one brand over another. Don’t fall for marketing tricks. You don’t even have to buy a multivitamin that is labeled “for seniors.” Read the ingredient labels and consider your individual needs.
Safety concerns with multivitamins
The FDA does not approve supplements like multivitamins, but there are independent organizations that set standards
Why Should the Elderly take Multivitamins?
It’s not those vitamins aren’t helpful – they are essential for good health. However, as mentioned before, unless there are restrictions in your diet, most people get enough vitamins. Seniors don’t need supplements more than other age groups for most vitamins, other than the two previously mentioned. This means that in general, taking multivitamins is unnecessary. The only exception to this is seniors who are recovering from injury/surgery, or who have restrictive diets. This includes those with food allergies or who are vegetarian. There is insufficient evidence to suggest multivitamins can prevent chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, et cetera. Unless a doctor determines that supplements are necessary, it’s best for seniors not to take multivitamins. This is because:
- Certain supplements can interfere with other medications you (or your elderly loved one) are already taking.
- Getting an excessive amount of any vitamin can lead to toxicity.
- Having to pay for vitamins is an unneeded expense, as Canadians spend about $370 million on supplements every year.
- Many older adults can’t cook proper, nutritious for themselves, or don’t have someone.
- Some of the ingredients in supplements, such as the gel caps that contain them, can lead to side effects like nausea and loss of appetite.