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Nutrition

Selecting a Multi-Vitamin: Tips for Older Adults

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When it comes to multi-vitamins, one kind doesnít suit all. For older adults, what you need in a multi-vitamin could differ from your needs earlier in life.

Some tips, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter, that older adults should consider when selecting multi-vitamins include:

Think food first. Itís the best way to get needed nutrients. But if your appetite has declined or you are on a restricted diet, a multi-vitamin could be helpful.

Multi-vitamins are best. Typically, seniorsí diets could benefit from more than one vitamin or nutrient. In general, look for a multi-vitamin that contains a wide variety of vitamins in the appropriate amounts, usually 100 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance. Excessive doses of some vitamins can be harmful.

Avoid excess iron. For women beyond menopause and men excess iron may increase the risk of heart disease. If youíre in one of these groups, it may be wise to look for a pill with less than 9 milligrams of iron.

Get adequate vitamin D. It helps absorb calcium and many older people have vitamin D deficiencies. Taking a pill with 400 international units (IUs) of vitamin D will probably improve bone health.

Get adequate vitamin B-6. This vitamin can help the immune system and may lower homocysteine, a risk factor for heart attacks. A multi-vitamin with at least 2 milligrams is often a good idea. But avoid excess doses.

Always tell your pharmacist and physician the amounts of vitamins you are taking. Vitamins can affect some medications and health conditions.


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