For many of us, taking vitamins (remember the ones that looked like characters on “The Flinstones”) was once a daily occurrence. Somewhere along the way, we fell out of the habit. But recent studies show that now may be the time for seniors to consider resuming their vitamin routine.
The Cleveland Clinic reports that more than one third of Americans over the age of 75 have a vitamin deficiency, primarily because they don’t eat as much food as they once did. And this continues to be the number one reason to take a multi-vitamin: to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
So, if you find yourself mimicking your 2 year-old self and refusing to eat your veggies, plan on adding a general multi-vitamin to your routine. However, it’s always important to consult with your physician to determine which supplements can be beneficial – and which types have a detrimental effect.
For some folks, there are risks involved in taking certain vitamins. For instance, seniors with specific medical conditions or lifestyles, like people taking the blood thinning medications Coumadin or Plavix, need to steer clear of vitamin E supplements, which can also thin the blood. People who are planning to have surgical procedures should also avoid certain vitamins.
Also note that studies show more isn’t necessarily better. High dosages of vitamins the body doesn’t need can cause unintentional side effects. Notably, a report from the Institute of Medicine warned that most healthy adults do not need high doses of vitamin D and calcium and caution that over-doing these supplements can lead to kidney stones and heart disease.
A better vitamin regimen would include a combination of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E. Researchers have recently shown these specifically have a positive effect on mental functioning in the elderly: A New York Times article reports that a January 2012 study found that seniors with the highest blood levels of the four vitamins scored higher on the cognitive tests and had larger brain volume than those with the lowest levels.
Again, as with most health-related issues for seniors, it’s always best to check with your physician. Learn what vitamins are best for you, stick with the prescribed dosage and don’t overdo it. Being healthy is a good idea at any age.