Vitamin Supplements seem like they are all the rage right now – but do you really need them?  Writer Terri L. Jones weighs in.

vitamin supplementsWhile getting all your nutrients from food is the best route, it can become a bit of a challenge as you get older. That’s because you could be eating less due to a need for fewer calories, decreased appetite or difficulty chewing. And even if every morsel of what you eat is packed with nutrition, your body becomes less efficient in absorbing those nutrients. For that reason, you may find it necessary to supplement your diet with vitamins.

Below we’ve identified a few of the supplements you may need, but be sure to consult your physician before you make these a part of your daily regimen:

Vitamin B12
B12 helps you create red blood cells and DNA, and maintain a healthy nervous system. While fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products are rich in B12, many seniors don’t absorb this nutrient as well as their younger counterparts. You may need a supplement to compensate for this deficiency.

You probably know that calcium creates strong bones, but it’s also important for other parts of your body, including your nerves, muscles and cell membranes. If you don’t get enough calcium, your body will actually leach it from your bones to keep the rest of your body functioning. Dairy products are the best source of this nutrient, but you can also get calcium from leafy green vegetables, like kale and spinach, and also broccoli and beans. Other foods, including juices, soymilk and breakfast bars, are often calcium-fortified.

Vitamin D
Unfortunately, your body can’t absorb calcium without vitamin D. But as you age, your skin doesn’t create as much vitamin D from simple exposure to the sun and only a few foods like salmon, tuna and eggs are natural sources of the nutrient. While it’s smart to choose foods like cereal and milk that are fortified with this vitamin, you may also need to supplement your intake.

What else?
You may also need to get more magnesium, potassium, folates and omega-3 fats as well as fiber and water as you age. Consult your doctor to determine exactly what and how much you need.

Have supplements made a difference in your health? Tell us in the comments below!