Vitamin & Mineral Supplement Safety — Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Are you worried that your senior loved one is not eating as well as they should?

Are they getting weaker or complain of being tired even after they sleep?

Seniors’ bodies still need all the nutrients they did when they were younger but not as many calories because they aren’t as physically active.

It can be more difficult to eat fewer calories but still get all the vitamins and minerals needed.

Nourishing Seniors’ Bodies

While it is true that the preferred way to get all the vitamins and minerals — good nutrition, that is — is from the food our seniors eat, oftentimes people over 50 have a very difficult time eating enough different foods to meet their need for essential nutrients as they age.

Many seniors and their family caregivers turn to supplements as nutrition insurance policies when they don’t seem to be able to eat enough.

But what forms of vitamin and mineral supplement are appropriate, is having more better, or which manufacturer is best are questions many family caregivers face when trying to decide which nutritional supplement they should help their senior loved one pick.

Here are a few tips to consider when buying nutritional supplements for seniors:

  1. Read the labels and follow the dosing instructions to determine the proper dosage so your senior doesn’t take too much! The more the better is not true for supplements as you can overdose on certain nutrients. Some vitamins and minerals can be toxic when taken in excessive amounts.
  2. Be sure you are buying from a reputable source. Remember that dietary supplements are largely unregulated. Some untrustworthy sources of vitamins and minerals may not be what they say they are. It is better not to buy over the internet when you may not be getting what you think you are due to lack of strict regulations.
  3. Discuss with your doctor, pharmacist or dietitian before taking new supplements, even the supplement your senior has been taking, because some could interfere with their prescription medications.
  4. Be aware of ingredients in multivitamin or other supplements. There may be fillers or ingredients such as sugar or artificial colors that some seniors can’t tolerate.

Eating a rainbow, choosing a variety of foods, and selecting nutrient dense foods will help your senior eat their vitamins instead of relying on supplements. But if you and your senior decide one is needed, practice a few simple safety precautions for their health!

Here is a guide to nutrients from A-Z from AARP that you might find useful.

Additional Resources

Here are some other articles you might find interesting about nutrition.