After you pass 50, you may need more of certain minerals and vitamins especially if you’re not eating a healthy, varied diet. In this post, we will discuss which are the best supplements for seniors to help you stay healthier and longer.
Beware that you can get the most part of nutrients from natural food and some supplements have side effects. Plus, some dietary supplements in the market often promise more than they can deliver.
In This Article
Our List of the Best Nutritional Supplements for Elderly
As you grow older, lifestyle and circumstances may prevent you from following the recommended dietary guidelines. In some instances, turning to the nutritional supplements is advisable, but beware: The FDA does not verify claims made on product labels. Read our guide to the best supplements for seniors to help you choose well.
#1 Vital Vitamins
Vitamins are organic molecules that are considered essential micronutrients needed for healthy metabolism. Individually, and together with other nutrients, vitamins play many vital roles. They help grow, renew, and repair your body.
Unlike minerals, vitamins are organic, which means that heat, air, or acid break them down—in other words cooking, storage or just exposure to air can destroy them. That’s why raw salad and fruits are such great vitamin boosts.
Vitamins work together with other micronutrients. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium for bone growth. Vitamin C allows your body to extract iron from food like milk. But too much vitamin C can also block the uptake of the essential mineral copper.
Vitamin C and all the B vitamins are water-soluble and therefore are common in fleshy fruit like oranges. Their most important task is releasing energy from the food you consume, and then use that to power your muscles. They also build cells and make collagen, which heals and binds your body.
The vitamin Bs deserve special mention because when deficiencies arise, different types of key functions of your body will malfunction. For instance, older people may absorb B12 less efficiently, and vegans are also at risk. A lack of B12 may then lead to confusion, agitation, or hallucination.
With a few exceptions, water-soluble vitamins for women and men over 50 should be replaced frequently, if not daily, preferably by eating fresh foods.
The four fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K, are slow-release nutrients that can remain in your body for more extended periods. Because protein serves as a carrier in your body, they are mostly sourced from protein-rich foods like meat, dairy, and certain beans. Your liver stores and regulates these types of vitamins.
Vitamins from this group play key roles. Vitamins A, D, and K are necessary for bone formation which helps to prevent falls. Vitamin A helps maintain cell health and particularly protects your vision. Vitamin E is critical for absorbing and storing vitamin A, and is also an important antioxidant, neutralizing harmful molecules in your body.
Getting It Right
Like other nutrients described here, vitamins cannot be synthesized by the body and must be part of your diet through food or supplements.
The exception is vitamin D, but if you don’t get the necessary sunshine, make sure you get it somewhere else. People that spend a lot of time indoors could take some extra vitamin D, one of the best supplements for seniors, ideally along with meals containing some fatty food.
#2 Mineral Building Blocks
Unlike vitamins, minerals are inorganic and therefore are not broken down chemically in the same way. That means minerals found in the food and fluids you consume can much more easily make their way to where they’re needed. But vitamins are often necessary to extract and absorb important minerals, like vitamin C for iron and vitamin D for calcium.
Seven minerals make up the bulk of inorganic nutrients used in your metabolism. Sodium, potassium, and chloride found in salt help maintain the required balance of water in your body.
Calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus are crucial for healthy bones. And sulfur stabilizes protein makeup, which is especially noticeable in hair, nails, and skin growth.
Other minerals occur in your body only in minute quantities but are no less important. Iron transports oxygen. Fluoride reinforces bones and prevents tooth decay.
Zinc allows blood in wounds to clot, is needed for taste and smell, and is critical for the immune system to function well. And copper is a building block for different enzymes that aid functions like digestion and metabolism.
Getting It Right
Minerals are a mixed bag. They are fundamental for your body to operate, grow, and heal but combine them in the wrong quantities, and the consequences can be problematic.
Fortunately, your body has many mechanisms to balance and eliminate surpluses. However, without the appropriate food and good supplements for seniors, your body cannot make up for missing nutrients.
For example, a lack of iodine can leave you sluggish and gain weight. Without enough selenium, it gets even worse. But too much manganese can aggravate iron deficiencies. And high phosphorus levels can interfere with an adequate intake of magnesium.
More common is excess salt. Because calcium is used to neutralize unused sodium, you could deplete much-needed reserves.
Calcium deficiencies are also a risk if you do not consume enough dairy or other products rich in calcium. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are recommended supplements in such cases.
How can you avoid getting it wrong? The short answer is, eat healthily. But if you’re unable to do that, then that’s the time to resort to supplements. Your doctor or nutritionist will be able to advise you better about the best mineral supplements for the elderly like you.
Your body absorbs and produces various compounds that act like nutrient police to neutralize and eliminate harmful oxidants. Free radicals can cause damage to different parts of the body’s cells, especially in the elderly. Antioxidants are out on patrol to prevent that, which includes some vitamins and minerals.
Free radicals are released naturally in your metabolism as waste and by-products. Others are introduced artificially through air pollution, smoking, and even ultraviolet radiation. They harm your body by literally stealing electrons from molecules. But sometimes they are also harnessed by your body as ‘mercenaries’ to fight viruses and bacterial infections.
Getting It right
Antioxidants are often portrayed as one of the best supplements for elderly that can help to fix a wide range of health issues, from cancer to heart disease. Many studies are cited in support of that, effectively showing that it’s important and doesn’t cause harm.
However, in-depth large-scale trials have failed to confirm that antioxidant supplements offer any benefits. Again, eating a healthy diet provides all the antioxidants you need in quantities that your body can digest and absorb.
#4 What About Omega-3 Fats?
Are products with omega-3 fatty acids a miracle cure or misleading advertising? These nutrients are common in fish, flaxseed, and also in supplements like fish oil that contain different forms of fatty acids. Your body can also convert some forms of fatty acids into others, but not enough to satisfy your regular needs.
Seniors need omega-3s to grow cell membranes, especially in your eyes and brain. Omega-3s also have many other roles that ensure the effective functioning of your lungs and heart, and your immune and endocrine systems.
However, despite the importance of fatty acids containing omega-3 for a healthy diet, there is little evidence that consuming fish oil or other supplements prevents or remedies diseases and physical degeneration.
Getting It Right
A varied diet will contain plenty of fatty acids with omega-3. If you avoid fish then make up for it by eating more nuts and seeds. Or use plant oils made from flaxseed, soybeans, or canola, or even by consuming fortified foods and beverages.
If you’re not getting enough food variety, then you can get dietary supplements to boost omega-3 in moderation, e.g., with fish oil.
#5 Natural Superfoods
While there’s no true superfood that takes away all concern for your diet, there are a few foods that really hit the mark when you’re trying to find the best supplements for older adults.
Moreover, clinical research has shown that the following list of food products can significantly counter the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even some forms of cancers. They work better than most of the multivitamins for men and women over 50 in the market.
- Berries: Are high in vitamins and especially antioxidants.
- Fish: Has already been highlighted as a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and also contains nourishing protein.
- Leafy greens: You will remember from your childhood as being well known to supply vitamins A and C as well as calcium and fiber.
- Nuts: Not only provide plant protein but also more omega-3.
- Olive oil: Features highly in the renowned Mediterranean diet as it’s rich in vitamin E along with monounsaturated fatty acids, which are both very good for your heart and therefore, longevity.
- Whole grains: Not only give you cleansing fiber but are bursting with B vitamins and minerals.
- Yogurt: Is full of calcium and protein, as well as probiotics that protect from damaging bacteria.
- Cruciferous vegetables: Also known as Brassica, are all those healthy looking vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower with more fiber and vitamins.
- Legumes: Are all beans and peas that provide filling protein, fiber, and vitamins.
- Tomatoes: Are your best vitamin C supplement if you have skipped your fruit.
Best Supplements for Seniors: Conclusion
Did you find this list useful? Nutrients are critical to good health, especially as you grow older. If your diet is incomplete, then supplements can be crucial.
Talk to your doctor if you have a health concern or are taking medication.
What have you found are the best supplements for older men and women?