Aging & Dietary Supplements (cont.)

Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts-2 to 3 servings

Fats, oils, and sweets-use sparingly

For example, a vitamin A intake of 100% DV (Daily Value) means the supplement is giving you the full amount of vitamin A you need each day. This is in addition to what you are getting from your food.

Some people might think that if a little is good, a lot must be better. But, that doesn't necessarily apply to vitamins and minerals. Depending on the supplement, your age, and your health, taking more than 100% DV could be harmful to your health. Also, if your body cannot use the entire supplement you take, you've wasted money. Finally, large doses of some vitamins and minerals can also keep your prescription medications from working as they should.

Anything Special For People Over 50?

Even if you eat a good variety of foods, if you are over 50, you might need certain supplements. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian. Depending on your needs, he or she might suggest you get the following amounts from food and, if needed, supplements:

  • Vitamin B12-2.4 mcg (micrograms) of B12 each day. Some foods, such as cereals, are fortified with this vitamin. But, up to one-third of older people can no longer absorb natural vitamin B12 from their food. They need this vitamin to keep their blood and nerves healthy.
  • Calcium-1200 mg (milligrams), but not more than 2500 mg a day. As you age, you need more of this and vitamin D to keep bones strong and to keep the bone you have. Bone loss can lead to fractures, mainly of the hip, spine, or wrist, in both older women and men.
  • Vitamin D-400 IU (international units) for people age 51 to 70 and 600 IU for those over 70, but not more than 2000 IU each day.
  • Iron-extra iron for women past menopause who are using hormone replacement therapy (men and other postmenopausal women need 8 mg of iron). Iron helps keep red blood cells healthy. Postmenopausal women who use hormone replacement therapy may still experience a monthly period. They need extra iron to make up for that loss of blood.
  • Vitamin B6-1.7 mg for men and 1.5 mg for women. This vitamin is needed for forming red blood cells and to keep you healthy.