The Facts About Supplements for Seniors
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Supplements sound incredible: they can help you get the vital nutrients you need, bolstering your health and even potentially eliminating some of your health woes. Dietary supplements come in so many different selections that there’s one for every need. You could take fish oil for your heart health, calcium to strengthen your bones, and vitamin A to improve your sight.
But can these amazing supplements actually keep their promises? Do supplements work like they claim to, helping seniors improve their health?
The truth is supplements are more complicated than they seem.
What are Supplements?
Dietary supplements claim to solve a lot of problems. These vitamins are advertised as remedies for poor health, nutrient-lacking diets, joint pain, and even aging in general.
Supplements are an extra dose of a particular nutrient, vitamin, or mineral that you lack. Some, like vitamins B and D or iron, include just one nutrient. Others, like multivitamins, contain a mix of ingredients.
Do Seniors Need Supplements?
Many supplements are targeted to seniors. They’re advertised on TV, in doctors’ offices, claiming to offer benefits of all kinds.
There are some benefits to supplements. Daily dietary supplements can provide important calories, fiber for better digestion, and possibly natural symptom management for some medical conditions. Some doctors also recommend supplements that are simply essential vitamins and minerals.
Do Supplements Actually Work?
Supplements promise better health. They tell seniors that they can heal ailments and solve your aches and pains. Some even claim bigger benefits, like weight loss or a longer life. But what can supplements actually do?
Dietary supplements help seniors get adequate nutrition. They aren’t meant to cure ailments but to give your diet a nutritional boost. Supplements aren’t a cure-all, and they can come with damaging side effects if taken in high doses.
Does this mean that supplements aren’t helpful at all? Is there any benefit to taking them? For some, the answer is yes. Supplements, in some circumstances, may offer healthy benefits.
Are Supplements Safe to Use?
Supplements aren’t medication. This means they aren’t prescribed or carefully monitored by the medical community. Many supplements aren’t even approved by the FDA.
Supplements are only lightly regulated by the FDA. Prescription medications undergo rigorous testing by the FDA to make sure they’re safe–but supplements don’t. Dietary supplements, according to AgingCare.com, aren’t reviewed at all before they’re sold at your local drug store.
There’s a dangerous secret hiding in some supplements, too. If you’re taking doctor-prescribed medicine and supplements, you could be at risk. Consumer HealthDay reports that more than 15% of seniors are taking deadly combinations of prescription medications and supplements. Omega-3 fish oil and St. John’s wort are two dangerous dietary supplements: they can interact with your medication, making it less effective or worsening side effects.
If you aren’t careful, and you take a supplement without checking with your doctor, you could end up with serious health issues.
Should You Skip Senior Supplements?
Supplements promise so many benefits. But can they truly deliver on any of those health benefits? For seniors in need of a nutritional boost, dietary supplements may be the answer.
Yet at the same time, supplements pose a serious danger. They aren’t regulated and they can contain any mix of ingredients. What if they impact your medications?
Dietary supplements don’t have to be a harmful health hazard–in the right circumstances, and with the right guidance from your doctor, they might be a great solution. A supplement could help you balance your diet and fill in key nutritional gaps.