Now, we know for sure that men and women are different – physically, socially, shall I continue or do you see where I might be going with this?! ? But, would you have guessed that differences between men and women are also very real when it comes to nutritional needs? There are a lot of options on the market for supplements. But, in order to maximize your health and wallet, you’ll need to know the best vitamins and minerals for men and women over 50.
You may be familiar with the advice that doctors and nutritionists will give – that it’s best to get the vitamins and minerals you need from the food you eat. And, that’s quite true.
However, for certain populations, including baby boomers, relying solely on food to get sufficient nutrients can be a challenge. We know that multiple systems are impacted as we age. This makes it difficult to tolerate or digest a variety of foods. Active lifestyles make it difficult to find foods on-the-go that have the nutrients we need to function at our best. What to do?
Thank goodness for supplements. But there are so many options, so many claims. Vitamins, minerals, supplements, dietary this, multivitamin that – what does it all mean?
A Vitamin By Any Other Name
- Vitamins are essential nutrients that the body needs. There are approximately 13 “official” vitamins which come from plants and animals. Like widely recognized Vitamin A or C. Vitamins can be taken individually, especially if there is a deficiency. A multivitamin includes many or all of the vitamins available.
- Minerals are nutrients that are absorbed by plants or animals from soil and water. Think types of minerals like calcium or iron
- Dietary supplements – just to cloud the issue, the category “dietary supplements” may be called vitamin supplements or mineral supplements, or contain additional nutrients like greens, amino acids, fiber or other components designed to supplement one’s diet
Made By Nature?
There are a few things that are important to understand in order to ensure you’re choosing the right product for you and your specific needs.
The first thing to keep in mind is that these products are not all created equal. There are “natural” vitamins which contain naturally occurring components and “synthetic” vitamins that are made in a lab. Synthetic also means that unnecessary ingredients or fillers may be added that stretch the contents in order to increase the profit to the manufacturer. This may include dyes, excess sugar, or worse. Add to these concerns the possibility of products made overseas with different standards or oversight and this isn’t a difficult test – which would you rather put in your body?
Cost vs. Value
The second thing to understand relates to the absorption rate or “bioavailability”. Did you know that absorption of pills or tablets can be as low as 30%? The body can only do so much to break down substances to be absorbed into the bloodstream before they are on the track to elimination from the body.
In addition to the body’s own process, absorption and effectiveness will be impacted by medications, other supplements, illnesses or interactions with certain foods.
Surprised? Many people aren’t aware how little of a supplement is retained. The best way to improve the odds is drink your vitamins to increase bioavailability (the absorption rate). A powder mixed with water is almost immediately bioavailable.
Supplements Are Good For You, Right?
- Supplements are designed to provide essential nutrients that your body may not be getting enough of. But too much of some vitamins or minerals can be toxic or have negative impacts
- The FDA (Federal Drug Administration) doesn’t regulate supplements. So it’s important to buy trusted brands and to check the label so you know what you’re getting
- Checking with your doctor is a good idea to determine what your body needs and what you should avoid
- Be sure you know what else your supplement contains. The benefits you might get from a good supplement could be offset by excessive sweeteners or unnecessary flavorings
So, it’s important to do your homework and know what you need as well as what you’re putting in your body in order to maximize the benefits.
But How Do I Determine The Best Vitamins, Minerals, Or Supplements For Seniors?
A rising star in the supplement world, especially for seniors are gummys. Hey, who doesn’t love a chewy, sweet gummy bear? Seniors are increasingly using gummy vitamins for that very reason – they’re easier, tastier and more fun than pills. That’s a great alternative if you already take a lot of pills or can’t swallow them. However, consider what makes them sweet and fun to take – everything we’ve mentioned above.
Perhaps surprisingly, rigorous testing by Consumer Reports found that some of the best multivitamins for women over 50 as well as the best multivitamins for men over 50 are actually store brands. These generic supplements delivered results comparable with national brands. At a lower price!
- Costco’s Kirkland brand for the over 50 crowd was top-rated by consumers in the discount/warehouse category
- Target’s Up And Up Adults 50+ Multivitamin is highly rated in the mass market grouping and compares itself to Centrum Silver
- Even drugstores and low-cost leaders received high marks for affordability without sacrificing quality
- Walmart’s Equate Complete Multivitamin Tablets, Adults 50+
- Even Dollar General’s (yes, Dollar General!) DG Health Adult Formula Complete 50+ Multivitamins made the list
- RiteAid’s Central-Vite Women’s or Men’s Mature
- CVS Pharmacy Health Multivitamin & Multimineral Tablets
To make sure you have all of the information you need to make the right choice about supplements, check out these websites:
- WebMD is a trusted source for a wide variety of medical questions
- Consumer Reports has been the go-to expert for many years for to evaluate everything from cars to multivitamins!
- ConsumerLab performs independent testing on health and nutritional products
- There are so many things to consider when deciding to use products relating to your health and trying to decide which ones are the best for you. But, it’s critical to understand all of the ramifications to protect yourself from unwanted effects and to get the best value for your hard-earned dollars.
The Irish toast Sláinte covers it – to your health!
I’m a “reformed” corporate HR/business professional/adjunct professor, now happily transitioned into a freelance writing lifestyle as a second act. My joys include family and active grandparenthood, love of the outdoors, and travel adventures. I write/edit a wide variety of business and lifestyle articles, case studies and thought leadership guides. I’m only partway through the new chapters of my life so I’m working on blogging and writing several ebooks for my next projects. I try to live life by my motto – “I’ll get older but never old!”