As we age, there are nutrition-related changes that make supplementation important, especially for those who are over 50 years old. According to US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data, older adults often fall short of meeting their needs for certain nutrients.1 Read on to discover the vitamins and supplements that are particularly important as we get older.
A daily multivitamin/mineral supplement formulated for adults over 50 can help fill nutritional gaps in their diet. A multivitamin based on age (50+) and gender is suggested to meet the changing nutritional needs for adults. For example, a multivitamin for those 50+ does not need to contain iron. Iron requirements decrease with age and most adults meet their daily iron needs through diet alone. Supplemental iron may not be needed unless recommended by a physician or health care professional.
Learn More About Multivitamin Benefits
Vitamin B12 or B-Complex
Vitamin B12 is one of the B vitamins and is important for converting the food you eat into cellular energy, as well as red blood cell formation and normal function of the nervous system.† Adults over 50 are at greater risk of low vitamin B12 levels. As we get older, our bodies release less stomach acid and stomach enzymes that are needed for B12 digestion and absorption. Because of the age-related changes in B12 absorption and utilization, older adults are often advised to supplement with Vitamin B12 or a B-Complex that includes B12.
Learn More: The Best Vitamins for Women Over 50
Adults often get very little exposure to sunlight, a major source of vitamin D. Vitamin D supplementation is recommended for adults 50+ because vitamin D status may diminish with age. Various factors such as decreased dietary intake, decreased absorption, decreased sun exposure, and decreased synthesis of vitamin D in the skin can cause those over 50 to be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. There may also be higher vitamin D needs for individuals who are low or deficient in vitamin D. Ask your doctor about getting your vitamin D level checked to determine how much vitamin D is right for you. If you are deficient, the Endocrine Society and other professional organizations recommend 150 mcg/day (6,000 IU/day) for 8 weeks to correct deficiency, and 50 mcg/day (2,000 IU/day) after that to maintain your blood vitamin D level within the normal range.2
Calcium is critical for building and supporting healthy bones.† However, it is usually in short supply for most people. For older adults (women 50+, men 70+), it is recommended to consume at least 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Calcium is best absorbed when taken in smaller, more frequent doses, such as 500 or 600 mg twice daily with a meal (calcium carbonate) or in between meals (calcium citrate).
Learn More: The Best Vitamins for Men Over 50
Vitamins C and E
In addition, antioxidants such as vitamins C and E to name a few, can help neutralize free radicals, which are thought to be responsible for cellular damage.†
Supplement Regimen for Adults 50+:
- Multivitamin/mineral supplement – based on age (50+) and gender
- Vitamin B12 or B-Complex
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Discuss these and other supplement considerations with your doctor or preferred health care provider before starting a specific regimen. This is especially important if you have health concerns and/or are taking prescription medication(s).
- Fulgoni et al. Food, Fortificants, and Supplements: Where Do Americans Get Their Nutrients? J Nutr. 2011; 141:1847-54.