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Nutritional Supplements for Seniors

September 10, 2015, 04:01 AM


As your body ages, some of your physiological needs change. This may include deficiencies in certain vitamin and minerals. Research has shown that some older adults may need more vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folate, calcium, potassium, and fiber, and that post menopausal women in particular may benefit from increased vitamin D intake. However, not all older adults need to supplement intake and many who do would benefit more by eating foods rich in these elements than by taking over-the-counter supplements in pill form. Here are few things to keep in mind when determining what your changing needs may be and how to best supplement your intake.

Addressing changing needs with diet

The best way to stay healthy at any age is to eat right. While it may be true that the elderly need to pay special attention to calcium and fiber intake, for example, these are elements often better absorbed into the system through food than pills.

Not only are dairy products generally high in calcium, but calcium- or vitamin D-fortified dairy products are also available in most grocery stores. Similarly, fiber intake can be increased easily by eating more oatmeal for breakfast, whole-grain bread sandwiches for lunch, brown rice with dinner, and popcorn as a snack.

In particular, seniors who are already taking medications for medical conditions may prefer to get the nutrients they need through food rather than more pills. The more comfortable you make getting the nutrients you need, the more likely you are to stay consistent and thereby stay at your healthiest. This is yet another reason to try to eat the right foods instead of spending money on supplements and then having to remember to take the right ones at the right times.

Contraindications for supplements

Not only is increasing intake of certain nutrients through food tastier and often easier than with supplements, but through food you are far less likely to overdose, or to reach levels contraindicated by certain medical conditions or various prescribed medications. High levels – levels you are far more likely to reach in pill form – of certain vitamins can be toxic, and others may be dangerous if taken together with certain medications or to a person with certain medical conditions.

Getting help making, and executing, the right choices

In order to supplement in the best way for your body, speak to your doctor about your individual needs. A simple blood test can show if you need to supplement anything specific while your health care provider can also make general recommendations about supplements that may be beneficial. You can also do some research online – plenty of information is available about common, popular supplements. And lastly, once you decide what the right supplements are for you and the best way to increase your intake, consider reaching out to Abcor home care aides who can assist you to cook the right foods, shop for fresh produce more regularly than may be convenient for you otherwise, or help you remember when to take which pills if that’s what you and your doctor have decided is best for you.

photo credit: Vitamin Shock via photopin (license)

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