While dietary supplements may provide some health benefits at any age, they also carry the risk of adverse reactions or even dangerous drug interactions. Inversely, they might not function at all.
Know what you’re taking and why you’re taking any supplements. Before starting any new supplement regimen, it’s important to discuss it with your doctor.
What is a dietary supplement?
Supplements to one’s diet can be used to increase nutritional intake or mitigate the onset of diseases like osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Pills, capsules, powders, gel capsules and tablets, extracts, and liquids are all examples of dietary supplements. They could have nutrients like vitamins and minerals as well as plant-based elements like fibre and amino acids. Dietary supplement ingredients are sometimes included in the regular fare. Dietary supplements can be purchased without a prescription from a doctor.
Should I take a dietary supplement?
The best method to ensure that you consume enough of the necessary nutrients is to eat healthy foods. However, some people’s diets may not provide them with sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals. If that’s the case, their doctors might suggest they take a supplement to make up for any nutritional gaps.
To those considering the use of nutritional supplements:
Learn as much as you can about any nutritional supplement you’re considering using. Consult your healthcare provider, chemist, or a certified nutritionist for advice. A supplement that helped your neighbour may not benefit you in the same way. Always consider the credibility of the organisation behind the fact sheet or webpage you’re perusing. Does the writer or group stand to gain anything from the supplement’s sale? Learn more about what to look for while evaluating health-related websites.
Not everything labelled “natural” is necessarily harmless or beneficial. Potential adverse effects exist. The effects of the medication your doctor prescribes could be altered. If you have a preexisting medical problem, it could possibly make your situation worse.
3) Explain the situation to your doctor
Consult your physician before beginning the use of any dietary supplement for the purpose of treating a medical condition. Never attempt to self-diagnose or self-treat a health problem by using a supplement; instead, see your doctor first. Discover the possible drug-nutrient interactions you may face. Check out the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) if you want to learn more.
4) Buy wisely
Pick brands that come highly recommended by healthcare professionals. Avoid buying nutritional supplements that contain components you are allergic to. Supplements, especially those with a very high concentration of a vitamin, should not be taken with the mentality that “more is better.” Supplements can be a waste of money if they aren’t actually needed.
5) Verify the research
Make sure there is solid evidence to back up any dietary supplement claims you see. In this case, the DRGD seal of approval is what you want to see. Supplements are tested for authenticity, potency, purity, and quality by DRGD. The National Practising Clinical Board (NPCB) website provides information on several dietary supplements; however, it is crucial to remember that most of the supplements listed have limited evidence of any value. Some things, if they seem too good to be true, usually are.
6) Make smart purchases
Magazine, website, and television commercials all guarantee you’ll feel better, avoid illness, and live longer if you just buy their dietary supplements. It’s vital to remember that there’s usually very little evidence to back up these statements.
Dietary supplements for older adults
Some vitamins and minerals may be more important for people over the age of 50. The necessity for dietary adjustments or supplementation with vitamins and minerals might be determined by your doctor or a nutritionist.
Calcium: Calcium and vitamin D work together to maintain bone health. Fractures are a common occurrence in the elderly, both for women and men. Milk and milk products (fat-free or low-fat is preferable), soft-boned canned fish, dark green leafy vegetables like kale, and foods with calcium added, like morning cereals, are all good sources of calcium.
Most Malaysians don’t get enough vitamin D because their diets lack fortifying foods. Consult your healthcare provider about taking a vitamin D supplement or incorporating vitamin D-fortified milk, milk products, vitamin D-fortified cereals, and fatty fish into your diet.
For red blood cell formation, vitamin B6 is essential. Potatoes, bananas, lean chicken meat, and fortified breakfast cereals are all good sources.
To maintain healthy red blood cells and neurons, take vitamin B12. Some older persons may have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 from their diet, despite the fact that their bodies still require the nutrient at the same levels as younger adults. A B12 supplement or fortified cereals containing this vitamin may be suggested by a doctor if you suffer from this condition. Because vitamin B12 is only found in animal products, strict vegetarians and vegans are at a higher risk of developing a deficiency. You should discuss taking a B12 supplement with your healthcare provider.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are a topic that could come up in the media. These are chemicals found naturally in food that may offer protection against certain diseases. The following are examples of well-known antioxidants that should be incorporated into your diet:
Beta-carotene: a pigment typically found in dark-green or dark-orange produce
Seafood, liver, pork, and cereals are all good sources of selenium.
Foods high in vitamin C include oranges, lemons, limes, tomatoes, peppers, and berries.
Wheat germ, almonds, and sesame seeds; canola, olive, and peanut oils; and dairy products are good sources of vitamin E.
Antioxidant supplements in high quantities are not effective at preventing chronic diseases like heart disease or diabetes, according to current research. In fact, some research suggests that it may be detrimental to consume excessive amounts of certain antioxidants. Again, a visit to the doctor is recommended prior to beginning any new supplement regimen.
Herbal supplements and older adults
Plant-based herbal supplements are a type of dietary supplement. These dietary aids might come in capsule, tablet, powder, or liquid form, and are ingested orally.
Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, echinacea, and black cohosh are just a handful that you might be familiar with. It is too soon to tell if herbal supplements are safe and effective for preventing or treating certain health problems, but researchers are investigating their use. Some herbal supplements have not been shown to be helpful in previous studies.
Even if a supplement claims to be natural or to be derived from plants, you should not assume that it is risk-free.