Taking supplements doesn’t mean you are unwell

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Your body may not always able to obtain all the necessary vitamins and nutrients from diet alone, this is especially true as you age. For this reason, many people (especially seniors) turn to supplements as a way to help meet their nutritional needs. However, before taking any supplements, it is important to understand why do you need supplements and their potential benefits and risks.

 

Misconceptions about taking supplements

Some people are taking too many supplements, while some do not believe in supplements. There are several misconceptions about taking supplements that have been perpetuated over time. 

  1. Supplements are a substitute for a healthy diet
    While supplements can help fill in gaps in a your diet, they should not be considered a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet. Whole and natural foods are the best source of nutrients, and supplements should only be taken to complement a healthy diet.

  2. The more the merrier
    Taking excessive amounts of supplements can lead to overdose and harmful to your health. It is important to follow the recommended dosage on the label or as advised by a healthcare professional.

  3. All supplements are safe
    Not all supplements are safe or effective. Some supplements can interact with your prescribed medications, while others may contain harmful contaminants. It is important to choose supplements from reliable manufacturers and discuss with your healthcare professional before starting any new supplements.

  4. Supplements that are good for others are also good for me
    While others may benefit from certain supplements, their supplements may not necessary be suitable for you. Seniors, pregnant women, and individuals with certain medical conditions require different types of supplements.

  5. All supplements are regulated by the government
    Unlike prescription medications, supplements are not regulated by the FDA for safety and efficacy before they are sold to consumers. Instead, the FDA only steps in after a supplement has been shown to be unsafe or reported having harmful contaminants.

  6. Supplements are natural and therefore safe
    Just because a supplement is made from natural ingredients does not mean it is safe or effective. Some natural supplements can still have harmful ingredients incorporated during the manufacturing processes and have side effects or interact with prescription medications.

  7. Supplements can cure or prevent all health problems
    While some supplements have been shown to have health benefits, they are not a cure-all for all health problems. A healthy diet and lifestyle are still the best ways to prevent and treat many health conditions.

  8. Supplements are medications
    Some elderly people do not like to take supplements because to them, these are medications. Medication is a healthcare product to treat diseases, while supplement is a health product to supplement a deficiency in your health.

Essential supplements for healthy ageing

  • Calcium for stronger bone
    As you age, your bones become more brittle and prone to fractures. Calcium and Vitamin D supplements can help to improve bone density and prevent fractures.
  • Vitamin C to boost immunity
    Vitamin C and Zinc are essential for a strong immune system, which is especially important for seniors who may be more susceptible to illnesses.
  • Probiotics for healthy gut
    Probiotics and digestive enzymes can help improve digestive health and reduce gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Magnesium for better mood
    If you are regularly feeling irritable, stressed or depressed, taking magnesium supplement can calm stress, improve mood and enhance sleep quality.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids for stronger heart
    Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil supplements have been shown to reduce risk of heart disease in seniors.
  • Vitamin B12 for brain health
    Supplements like Vitamin B12 and Omega-3 fatty acids can improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of dementia.
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To find out more about dietary supplements for older adults, please visit the National Institute of Aging (NIH) link here.

 

Risks of supplements for the elderly

While supplements can provide health benefits, there are also potential risks associated with taking them incorrectly.

  • Interactions with Medications
    Certain supplements can interact with medications, leading to potentially harmful side effects. It is important to talk to a healthcare provider before taking any supplements to avoid potential interactions.

  • Overdose
    Taking too much of certain vitamins and minerals can lead to an overdose, which can cause serious health problems. Seniors who are taking supplements should be careful not to exceed the recommended daily dose.

  • Adverse Effects
    Some supplements can cause adverse effects, such as stomach upset or allergic reactions. It is important to be aware of the potential side effects of any supplements being taken, if there is any sign of discomfort, stop immediately and seek medical advice.

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  • Quality Control
    Not all supplements are manufactured equally, some may not contain the ingredients listed on the label or may be contaminated with harmful substances. It is important to purchase supplements from licensed sources.

Tips for taking supplements safely

If you are considering taking supplements, here are some tips to ensure your safety:

  1. Talk to your healthcare provider
    Before taking any supplements, consult your healthcare provider to ensure the supplements are safe for you and do not interact with any medications you are taking.

  2. Stick to the recommended dose
    Be sure to follow the recommended dose on the label to avoid an overdose. You may skip a dose or two, but should not take more than necessary.

  3. Beware of fake supplements
    Choose supplements from reliable sources and look for products that are licensed and have been tested for quality. Cheap supplement that is used by many people does not guarantee its quality.

  4. Keep track of what you are taking
    Keep a record of all the supplements you are taking, including the dosage and frequency, and share this information with your healthcare provider.

  5. Be aware of potential side effects
    Be aware of the potential side effects of any supplements you are taking, and stop taking them if you experience any adverse effects and allergy reactions.

Conclusion

Supplements can provide benefits for seniors, but they also come with potential risks. It is important to talk to a healthcare provider before taking any supplements and to follow the recommended dose to avoid an overdose. By taking these precautions, seniors can safely and effectively supplement their diet to improve their overall health and wellbeing.

 

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