What Supplements May Older People Need?

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Taking supplements can support healthy aging.

Sometimes supplementing is necessary.

People may need to supplement their income with gig work to help make ends meet.

Teachers may supplement the textbook readings with articles from various sources to provide a more well-rounded, in-depth view of a topic.

According to a recent AARP article titled “The 3 Supplements You Might Actually Need After 50,” people may benefit from taking dietary supplements at different times in their lives.

Supplements may be required in some diets.
Those with dairy allergies or other dietary restrictions may have a greater need for certain supplements.

This is common when individuals are pregnant.

It may also be beneficial for aging individuals.

Although eating a balanced and healthy diet is essential to getting the nutrients an aging body requires, sometimes it is insufficient in providing the appropriate amounts of specific vitamins and minerals.

Essential vitamins and minerals for older adults include calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B12.

What does each of these do?


Calcium is an essential component of strong bones.

Older adults are at greater risk of falls and bone fractures without sufficient amounts of calcium.

Diets with dairy products, tofu, and leafy greens like collard greens, broccoli, and kale are good sources of calcium.

If your diet lacks these or your body is simply deficient, you can take supplements.

Calcium supplements are not all the same.

Some are solo supplements, while others a paired with another nutrient.

One common combination is Vitamin D and calcium.

While calcium citrate does not need to be taken faith food, calcium carbonate is better taken with a meal or snack.

If a person also takes iron supplements, these should not be taken at the same time as calcium supplements.

Ideally, there should be at least a four-hour time difference.

Before taking calcium pills or chews, talk to your doctor about whether these would interfere or interact with any medications you are taking and cause adverse side effects.

Although calcium is vital to strong bones, including weight-bearing exercise in your regular routine also helps prevent breaks and fractures.

Vitamin D. 

Like ice cream and cake, Vitamin D and calcium are better together.

Technically, calcium and Vitamin D are better for your health than these sugar-laden desserts, but both pair nicely.

Vitamin D improves bone, heart, nervous system, and immune system health.

How does Vitamin D specifically support calcium intake?

Vitamin D facilitates better absorption of calcium in the gut.

Foods high in Vitamin D include beef liver, fatty fish, milk, mushrooms, and yogurt.

If you require supplements as you age, you should consult your doctor about whether Vitamin D2 or D3 is better for you.

What are the differences?

Vitamin D3 can be purchased over the counter and is derived from animals.

I am a big fan of this supplement and take it every day.


According to my dermatologist and internist, I must be mindful of overexposure to damaging sun exposure during the summer and limited exposure during the winter.

This is relatively routine medical advice for those of us who are Baby Boomers.

Vitamin D2 is generally prescribed by physicians and is sourced from plants.

Like calcium, Vitamin D may negatively affect your prescriptions.

Vitamin B12. 

Older human bodies have more difficulty absorbing Vitamin B12, making it a common deficiency.

Vitamin B12 is key to regulating genetic, nerve, and blood health.

Because Vitamin B12 is found in dairy, clams, poultry, eggs, and meat, vegetarians and vegans are at a particularly high risk of deficiency.

Additionally, those with celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or those who take gastric inhibitors to treat some digestive issues or take metformin for diabetes will be at greater risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency.

What are common ailments associated with Vitamin B12 deficiency?

These individuals are more like to have anemia, balance issues, confusion, depression, poor memory, symptoms similar to dementia, neuropathy, and nerve damage.


Those experiencing these symptoms or at higher risk of deficiency should talk with their doctors about taking supplements.

Reference: AARP (July 21, 2021) “The 3 Supplements You Might Actually Need After 50”

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