Vitamin Supplements and Vitality

November 29, 2023

As we age, getting all the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need from diet alone can become more difficult. Daily dietary supplements are often the answer for optimum health, but let’s explore the what, why, and how these supplements relate to aging and vitality. 

Dietary Supplements 101

Dietary supplements come in the form of pills, capsules, powders, gel capsules, tablets, extracts, or liquids. They might contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids, herbs,  or enzymes. Sometimes, the ingredients in dietary supplements are added to foods and drinks. A doctor’s prescription is not needed to buy dietary supplements. 

If you’re thinking about adding dietary supplements to your daily routine, make sure to do a little research first. Find out as much as you can about the supplements you think you need. Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or a registered dietician. If you’re researching on the internet, be aware of your sources of information. Oftentimes, the article may be written by a producer of a particular brand of supplement who would profit from the sale of it. Perhaps your doctor could provide you with a list of the best sites for up-to-date information. 

Remember, just because a product says that it’s natural, that doesn’t mean it’s safe or good for you. Take into consideration how it might interact with medicines you already take or be harmful to you if you have certain other medical conditions. 

Also, make sure any claim about a dietary supplement is based on scientific proof. Look for the USP verified mark. USP verifies the identity, quality, strength, and purity of supplements. However, it’s important to note that many supplements have limited evidence of benefit. Some advertisements for dietary supplements in magazines, online, or on TV promise to make you feel better, keep you from getting sick, or even help you live longer. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is! 

Whether it is low energy, low immunity levels, joint pain, or chronic inflammation, consuming the right supplements for seniors on top of a healthy diet can help increase the overall quality of life. Below are some of the most used supplements and how they work. 



Meat and dairy products are the only way for the body to get this key vitamin. Unfortunately, as people age, their ability to absorb vitamin B12 decreases. Medications, surgeries, and a natural reduction of stomach acid levels impact how much B12 the stomach processes. Severe B12 deficiency can cause anemia and, in some cases, nerve damage. For seniors looking to reduce meat and dairy consumption, this is an important vitamin to monitor. 



Also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin best absorbed by the skin from direct sunlight. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, leading led to the introduction of vitamin D-fortified foods. Low vitamin D levels have become more common as skin cancer awareness has increased. Sunscreens can block up to 99 percent of the UV rays needed for vitamin D production. Also, a decrease in outdoor activity among seniors may lead to a wider vitamin D deficiency in this demographic. Problems for seniors that can arise from low vitamin D levels include depression, lowered immunity, and osteoporosis. Recently, researchers have found a link between low vitamin D levels and heart disease. 



Ideally, it’s best to get your calcium from your diet. Foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, fortified orange juice, and kale are great sources of calcium. But this is another nutrient seniors may have a hard time getting enough of from food intake. The body stores 99 percent of its calcium supply in the bones and teeth to support their structure and health. It is believed that women over age 50 need 1,200 mg (milligrams) each day. Men need 1,000 mg between age 51 and 70 and 1,200 mg after 70, but not more than 2,000 mg a day.



The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least two servings of fatty fish each week for adults. Fish oil supplements have been shown to lower the risk of falls in the elderly population. This is because of its positive effects on balance and mobility, which is crucial for staying safe when walking. However, for some, eating fish twice a week may not be an option. Also, a history of coronary artery disease increases the amount of omega-3 needed. In these situations, adding fish oil supplements to complement dietary intake may be advised. Dosage recommendations vary widely, so check with your doctor or nutritionist before starting an omega-3 regimen. 



Both necessary components of healthy cartilage, glucosamine, and chondroitin must be manufactured in the body because they do not occur naturally in food. As the body ages, it may be helpful to take supplemental glucosamine and chondroitin to aid in the treatment of osteoarthritis by controlling joint pain and slowing the progression of the disease. 


Clearly, there are many options when it comes to choosing supplements. It is important to do your research and talk to your healthcare team to determine the right best course of action. When selected with care and used in conjunction with exercise and healthy living, vitamin and mineral supplements can be key in boosting your overall vitality.