Choosing a multivitamin as you get older

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Dietary supplements are substances you might use to add nutrients to your diet or to lower your risk of health problems such as osteoporoses or arthritis.Dietary supplements come in the form of pills, capsules, powders, gel capsules and tablets, extracts, or liquids. They might contain vitamin’s,minerals , fiber, amino acids, herbs or other plants, or enzymes. Sometimes, the ingredients in dietary supplements are added to foods and drinks. A doctor’s prescription is not needed to buy dietary supplements.

Because diets of older adults are often short in more than one vitamin and mineral, a multiple vitamin-mineral pill taken once a day may make more sense than single-nutrient pills. For quality, look for USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) on the label.
• Don’t take megadoses
Look for a supplement that contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals in the appropriate amounts, usually no more than 100 percent of the Daily Value (DV). Check the contents to make sure you’re not getting too much of any nutrient, which can be harmful. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.
• Check the iron content
Some studies suggest that excess iron can raise the risk of heart disease and colon cancer for women beyond menopause and for men of any age. For these people, it’s probably wise to use a pill with little or no iron — 8 milligrams (mg) or less.
• Get enough calcium
People over 50 need 1,200 mg of calcium a day, but typically consume only 700 to 800 mg a day. A multivitamin can only include about 200 mg of calcium because a larger amount would make the pill too big to swallow.

• Get enough vitamin D
This helps the body absorb calcium and is essential to main- tain proper bone strength. Because many older adults don’t get regular exposure to sunlight and have trouble absorbing vitamin D, taking a multivitamin with 400 to 600 internation- al units (IU) will probably help improve bone health.
• Look for vitamin B-12 (cobalamin)
Adequate levels of this vitamin may reduce your risk of anemia, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Older adults often don’t absorb this vitamin well. A multivitamin with at least 2 micrograms (mcg) may help.

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