Nutritional Supplement Drinks: Pros and Cons

January 10, 2024

With a new year comes a chance to review our nutritional habits and deficiencies, and set some new goals. Quite often, we are concerned about gaining weight, but as we age, that might not always be the case. 

Loss of appetite and weight loss can be expected as we age. Twenty-five percent of older adults experience weight loss. However, it isn’t considered a “normal” part of aging, so it’s important to bring it up with a doctor if you or a loved one experience unintended weight loss or lack of appetite. 

Nutritional supplement drinks are sometimes recommended to help the user gain or maintain weight. They are typically high-calorie and packed with vitamins and minerals and sometimes protein. However, it’s a common misconception that they are a complete source of nutrition. Here are some of the pros and cons of these “meal replacement drinks.” 


Prevents Weight Loss

If other methods of increasing weight are not working, then a nutrition supplement drink added to your daily diet or that of a loved one can be helpful. These drinks can benefit seniors struggling to eat enough due to low appetite or health issues. They are often quicker, easier, and more palatable than a full meal. 

Increased Protein

When we don’t get enough protein, our bodies lose muscle mass and have less energy, especially as we age. Adults over age 65 should try to get about 65 to 85 grams of protein a day, depending on weight. Nutritional supplement drinks with added protein are a great way to get enough protein to stay healthy each day. Remember to read the labels carefully, not all brands have the recommended amount of protein. 


For seniors and their caregivers, the added convenience of a supplemental drink is a gift.  It’s a simple and effective way to get the extra boost of nutrition they need. And for seniors who find it a challenge to prepare meals or digest certain foods, what better way to get needed calories and vitamins? 


High Sugar

Unfortunately, many nutritional supplement drinks far exceed daily sugar recommendations. Therefore, it’s important to carefully read the label before choosing a supplement drink, as the dangers of high sugar intake outweigh any of the benefits gained. 

Digestive Problems

It’s important to review the ingredient list before adding these drinks to a diet, as some ingredients may cause issues like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, flatulence, or nausea. Many different types of supplement drinks are available to meet different dietary needs. Carefully consider the options and talk to a doctor for the best recommendation. 

Medication Interactions

Most seniors are on some or many prescription drugs, and the vitamins and minerals found in nutrition supplement drinks may not interact well with these prescriptions. Before deciding on one of these drinks, bring a list of all your prescriptions to your doctor or nutritionist and discuss the best supplement to add to your diet. 

Here are a few options to investigate: 

  • Ensure has Original, Plus, Complete, and even High Protein options. 
  • KateFarms has gluten-free and non-dairy formulas. 
  • Boost has both diabetes-friendly and high-calorie nutrition. 

Remember to always check any dietary additions or changes with your medical team before trying. Cheers to a healthy new year!