Many pharmacies specialise in nutrition knowledge and nutritional supplements, and a chat with your pharmacist, who also knows what medicines you may be taking, is a good starting point. If you have any particular medical problem, you should discuss it with your doctor.
Today, many women are coping with a full-time job, managing a household, chauffeuring children to school and sports, and trying to keep themselves energetic and vibrant. Stress and skipped meals may mean they are not receiving enough iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium, among other essential nutrients, from their daily diet. This can lead to tiredness, poor skin, loss of interest in sex and lowered resistance to minor infections such as coughs and colds.
From the age of 50 many men start to experience prostate or ‘water works’ problems. To maintain a healthy prostate gland and avoid or reduce symptoms, you may want to try the following: saw palmetto, Pygeum extracts, or beta-sitosterol plant extract. Anyone with problems should have a medical check up to make sure there is not a more serious condition such as inflamed prostate or prostate cancer.
Some elderly people do not eat enough fruit, vegetables or dairy products. As a result, they may have low levels of several vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins C, B6 and folate. Multivitamin supplements formulated especially for the needs of the elderly are now available, some of which include digestive enzymes to boost digestion.
Osteoporosis is linked to lack of calcium and this can result in broken bones. If dietary calcium intake is insufficient, a calcium supplement is recommended, as well as weight-bearing exercise to strengthen the bones. Vitamin D supplements may also be necessary, especially in those who are housebound or have limited sun exposure. In addition to helping prevent osteoporosis, there is some evidence that restoring healthy vitamin D levels can increase muscle strength and decrease falls.
Antioxidants may help boost the immune system and help prevent oxidative damage that has been linked to a variety of conditions, including cataracts and memory loss, but convincing evidence of their effectiveness is not yet available.
The elderly are high users of medicines and some of these, for example, antacids, antibiotics, diuretics and laxatives, can interfere with vitamin and mineral absorption, making supplementation important.
Before taking any nutritional supplements, ask your health care professional whether they can interfere with any of your other medicines or health problems.
Outside of special situations such as pregnancy and specific illnesses, adequate vitamins and minerals can easily be obtained from eating a healthy, balanced diet. There is very little scientific evidence that taking vitamins or minerals in supplement forms at levels above the recommended daily intake has any health benefit, and in some circumstances it may be harmful.
Last Reviewed: 16 December 2009