Aging & Dietary Supplements: More is Not Always Better

Bill's retired and lives alone. Often he's just not hungry or is too tired to fix a whole meal. Does he need a multi-vitamin or one of those dietary supplements he sees in ads everywhere? He wonders if they work-will one help his arthritis, or another give him more energy? And, are they safe?

"Dietary supplements" used to make you think only of vitamins and minerals . But, today this big business makes and sells many different types of dietary supplements that have vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids, herbs, or hormones in them. Supplements come in the form of pills, capsules, powders, gel tabs, extracts, or liquids. Sometimes you find them added to drinks or energy bars. They might be used to add nutrients to your diet or to prevent health problems. You don't even need a prescription from your doctor to buy dietary supplements.

Do I Need a Dietary Supplement?

Ads for supplements seem to promise to make you feel better, keep you from getting sick, or even help you live longer. Often there is little, if any, scientific support for these claims. In fact, some supplements can hurt you. Others are a waste of money because they don't give you any health benefits.

So, should you take a supplement? You might want to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to answer that question. A friend or neighbor, or someone on a commercial shouldn't be suggesting a supplement for you.