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Many of us take a handful of pills in the morning, ranging from blood pressure medication to allergy tablets. Some of us also take vitamin and mineral supplements, while others take no pills at all. Regardless of the supplements we take, many of us remain confused as to which nutrients we need and why we need them.
Which vitamins should you be taking? Which pills should you take cautiously? Here are our top supplement recommendations for adults 50 and over.
Should I Take Vitamins?
There is some debate in the medical field as to whether vitamin and mineral supplements are necessary. Some healthcare professionals argue that eating a balanced diet fulfills most nutritional needs.Others argue that the diet and lifestyle of the 21st century has led to nutrient deficiencies. The issue is not black-and-white. If you're in doubt, have your physician run a blood test to determine whether or not you are suffering from any nutrient deficiencies.
The Best Supplements for Seniors
Calcium is one of the most important nutrients for older adults. It is crucial for maintaining strong bones; sufficient intake can even reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Research has shown that calcium intake often falls as we age, making supplements a wise choice. The nutrient's bone-strengthening effects are most effective when paired with regular exercise.
Magnesium levels in the body are reduced when we consume soft drinks, caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugar. Medications like diuretics can also deplete the body's magnesium supply. Low magnesium levels can cause muscle cramps, spasms, insomnia, and fatigue. Heart, bone, and immune system health are all supported by magnesium. Consuming a healthy diet with more fresh, whole foods is one of the best ways to increase your magnesium intake. A daily supplement can also ensure that you are getting enough magnesium on a daily basis.
Do you want to have healthy nerves and a good red blood cell count? If so, you might want to start taking a vitamin B12 supplement. Even if you maintain a balanced diet, you may be deficient in vitamin B12; seniors absorb B12 less readily than younger adults due to decreased levels of stomach acid. If you take drugs to manage an acid reflux or heartburn condition, you are at an especially high risk of developing vitamin B deficiency. Eat more eggs, meat, fish, and dairy products to boost your B12 levels naturally. If you are deficient, opt for a capsule.
Vitamin D3 is one of the most important vitamins for seniors, particularly those living in cloudy regions with long winters. The vitamin is usually produced when the skin is exposed to bright sunlight. Many homebodies are therefore deficient in vitamin D. The benefits of vitamin D range from promoting calcium absorption to reducing the odds of developing heart disease. The vitamin also strengthens the immune system and reduces the risk of developing up to 18 different forms of cancer.
These Supplements are questionable
Though vitamin A promotes good vision, it can be toxic at high levels. A study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute revealed that smokers who took vitamin A were actually more likely to develop cancer than smokers who didn't. Though a little vitamin A in your multivitamin is nothing to be concerned about, there's no reason to take any extra vitamin A.
Though most seniors could benefit from taking vitamin B12, vitamin B6 is less necessary. Few adults are deficient in this vitamin, as it is abundantly available in many foods. Taking high doses of vitamin B6, however, can cause nerve damage. Unless you are severely deficient, there is no reason to take B6 supplements.
There are few risks to taking vitamin C so long as the dosage is less than 2000 mg a day. The supposed benefits of taking extra vitamin C, however, have recently been brought into question. Studies have shown that vitamin C has no effect on the immune system and fails to reduce the risk of developing the common cold. Though vitamin C is a great nutrient, most adults get plenty of C from their daily diet.
Vitamin E is often promoted as a powerful antioxidant. Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that the vitamin actually increases the risk of developing prostate cancer. Though the risk was only slightly increased, the results prove that the vitamin has the potential to do more harm than good.
Before purchasing any supplements, do some research to determine which brand and doses are best for you. Vitamins are increasingly being manufactured in China; be sure that the brand you choose is manufacturing safe and tested supplements.
The right combination of vitamins and minerals can improve your health for the better. Do your research and schedule a nutrient test today!
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