Feature Archive

Supplements to Boost Your Health

Many older adults benefit from these five nutritional supplements.

WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson

Doctors instruct people 65 years and older to get flu shots, eat a high-fiber diet and do strengthening exercises to stay healthy.

But of all the things older people can do, taking nutritional supplements ranks as one of the easiest, says Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, professor of nutrition at Tufts University School of Nutrition, Science and Policy.

"It's one thing you can do that's not too hard to do," he said.

That's important, since seniors need to do what they can to protect themselves from heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death among people 65 years and older, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Nutritional supplements not only help decrease the risk of certain diseases, but they also fill up what's missing in a typical elderly person's diet. It usually doesn't have a sufficient number of calories to cover the essential nutrients, said Dr. Blumberg. Older people tend to have a smaller appetite and usually eat only about 1,200 calories of food. Compare that with the 2,000 calories required to follow the food pyramid -- a recommended diet that includes a healthful balance of foods -- and the need for supplements is clear.