More and more seniors are taking supplements as a part of their daily dietary regiment. Of course, supplements can never replace the benefits of a healthy and balanced diet. One of the most important things to remember about supplements is this: talk to your doctor. Certain supplements could cause adverse side effects with other prescription medicine.
If one thing is true about supplements, it’s that there are thousands of different types. It seems that every day there’s a new supplement that hits the market and touts some miracle that can happen if only one takes it. With supplements, dieting seems feasible, nutrition seems easier, and having a full head of hair or wrinkle-free skin is as easy as popping a pill. So are supplements good? Or are they just snake oil with a pretty package?
If you have some sort of dietary restriction, or limitation, doctors may recommend that you take a supplement to, well, supplement that restriction or limitation. That is, after all, the point of supplements. They supplement what is lacking from your diet. They are not, and should not, ever be used as a replacement for other dietary choices.
If one is recommended to take a supplement, remember this: it does not need to be specifically marketed to “seniors”. If your doctor says to take a supplement of B12, for example, you do not necessarily need to buy a “senior-formula”. Also, generic brands are just as good as name brand. That alone can save you a decent amount of money. Disregard anything that says “mega-formula” or “ultra-powerful”. A lot of supplements on the market, again, like B12, are water-soluble. This means that even “ultra-powerful” formulas will be a waste. The excess your body doesn’t need is simply flushed out of the body through the urine. A regular-strength, generic supplement will work just fine. Not all supplements are water-soluble, so again, ask your doctor what’s best for you. Of course, if your doctor states to get a specific brand, strength, or formula, take their word for it. But, for the most part, stick to the basics.
When a doctor recommends that you take a supplement it is likely because you have a deficiency of a certain vitamin or mineral. It may be that you aren’t getting a good amount of that particular vitamin or mineral from foods, possibly because of allergies, or it may be because at a certain age the body requires more of that particular vitamin or mineral. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, this is where supplements are good. They can help replace the vitamins or minerals that are missing from your body.
It’s also important to note that most healthy seniors do not need a steady dose of supplemental nutrition, as their diets provide the majority of this naturally. Although, as we age we do require an increased amount of certain vitamins and minerals, like B6, B12, and Folate. This, of course, also depends on the person and what your personal doctor recommends. While there are some benefits to taking supplements it should be known that simply eating better can generally give you the proper nutritional needs you may require.
When it comes to supplements people often think of them as a way to skirmish around proper nutrition. This can actually end up doing more harm than good. In fact, the chance of vitamin or mineral overdosing increases the more supplements you take. While some do just leave the body when in excess, others can actually poison you, like Vitamin A. It’s true that it does need to be in quite large amounts, but it is possible.
One of the biggest problems with supplements is the idea that users don’t inform their doctors. So, say a doctor prescribes a drug to thin the blood. Taking a supplement that includes Vitamin K, a blood clotting vitamin, would tend to be not only counter-intuitive, but also could lead to some serious and harmful health problems. These kinds of interactions can go unnoticed if a doctor is uninformed. It is imperative that those looking into using supplements let their doctor know and see what’s best for them.
When all is said and done supplements can be a wonderful addition to your dietary health, but only if your doctor says it’s beneficial. The last thing you want is the mentality of better health, but the effect of worse health. Talk to your doctor and see what’s best for you.
If you’re part of a Bonaventure Senior Living community, you can also begin the talks with the nurse. She can assist you and point you in the right direction for all your supplement and health questions.