Should You Be Taking A Dietary Supplement?

As you age, getting enough vitamins, minerals, fiber and other substances becomes even more crucial. What you put into your body not only affects your energy levels and general wellbeing, but it can also play a role in your susceptibility to specific ailments like osteoporosis or arthritis. It’s definitely possible to get all the nutrients you need through the foods that you eat, but depending on your diet, there could be some you’re missing out on. That’s where dietary supplements come in.


Dietary supplement is a broad term for a pill, capsule, powder, tablet, extract or liquid that contains vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids or other enzymes. Each person’s diet is different, and therefore the nutrients they could be missing out on are different. Here’s a list of vitamins and minerals that people over the age of 50 tend to need more of than younger people:


  • Calcium: Everyone knows calcium strengthens bones (Got Milk?). Bone loss can lead to fractures in older adults, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough calcium. Calcium is found in dairy products, canned fish, dark-green leafy vegetables and many cereals.
  • Vitamin D: This is something most people in the US don’t get enough of from diet alone, but it can be easily added by way of D-fortified milk and cereals, fatty fish or a vitamin D supplement.
  • Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 aids in the formation of red blood cells, and is found in potatoes, bananas, chicken breasts and fortified cereals.
  • Vitamin B12: Another vitamin that helps keep your red blood cells healthy, Vitamin B12 is sometimes not absorbed as well by bodies of older adults. B12 is limited to animals foods, so if you eat a largely plant-based diet, a B12 supplement may be a good choice for you.


It’s important to talk with your doctor about whether you need to take a vitamin or mineral supplement. He or she will be able to tell you how any of your current medications can interact with a supplement, and will also be able to recommend verified supplements.