Which Supplements Should You Take Over the Age of 50?

When you reach a certain age, you start to take a long, hard look at your wellbeing. Am I exercising enough? Am I going to see my grandchildren graduate? There are things you can do to boost your wellness, but when it comes to vitamin and mineral supplements, there seem to be more questions than answers. So, which ones actually work, and which are a waste of time? According to Pamila Brar, MD, at 50 you should skip multivitamins and vitamin E, and take calcium, vitamin C and vitamin D, but why?


In terms of time wasters, Brar explains, ‘Surprisingly, a review of the recent literature actually suggests that for women over 50, taking a multivitamin, especially one containing iron, can be detrimental. While the risk of death was only slightly higher in the vitamin group, a University of Minnesota study certainly raised eyebrows in this regard. A second study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study showed similar concerns.’ In the case of vitamin E, Brar notes, ‘Recent studies have shown increased risk of prostate cancer in men taking this vitamin,’ and ‘vitamin E has blood-thinning effects, so should not be taken with other blood thinners such as Warfarin and Aspirin.’


Duly noted. So what about the supplements you should take? Brar comments, ‘Women over 51 should take 1,200 mg of calcium per day, but don’t take it all at one time—divide it up throughout the day since you can’t absorb more than 500mg in one sitting.’ As one in five men over 50 have significant bone loss, you boys should consider a daily dose of 100mg. Brar adds that if you are one of the millions of patients taking acid-blocking medications like proton pump inhibitors ‘calcium carbonate will not be well absorbed, so I recommend calcium citrate.’


Brar continues, ‘Having seen this many times in my practice, you will not likely be able to make headway in building new bone and preventing bone loss without ensuring normal levels of vitamin D, which help the body absorb calcium.’ She adds that the widely recommended ‘doses of 400-800 iu per day have also been recommended for mood disorders such as depression and seasonal affective disorder.’ Finally, Brar advises a Vitamin C supplement, as this ‘helps maintain healthy connective tissue, helps our bodies absorb iron and also aids the immune system and acts as an antioxidant.’

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