Vitamins & Supplements: How to choose wisely after 60
Scientists don’t know whether a daily multivitamin staves off disease, but many people take them to maintain or boost their health. Others take just one vitamin or mineral, like iron, to fill in a gap in their diets.
Before you add a supplement or vitamin to your routine, go over these questions with your doctor, pharmacist, or registered dietitian:
- How would this supplement help me? Do I need it for a medical condition or to prevent disease?
- What does the research say about its benefits?
- How much would I take?
- When and for how long do I need it?
- Should I take it as a pill, powder, or liquid?
- Which form of the vitamin (vitamin D2 or D3, for instance) is the best?
- Are there any side effects?
- What are the best brands of this supplement in terms of quality, safety, and how well they work?
- Can I take it along with my other medications? Should I avoid any foods?
- Will I need to stop taking it if I have to have surgery?
Who Should Avoid Supplements and Vitamins?
Supplements are not a good idea for people with some kinds of health conditions. They also can keep some medications from working as well as they should. Always talk with your doctor before you add any to your diet. People who should avoid certain types include:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women, because some supplements can be dangerous to the baby. A daily prenatal vitamin has the right types and amounts of nutrients for these women.
- People who take heart medications, diuretics, blood thinners, aspirin, drugs that turn down the immune system, and steroids. With any type of drug, there’s always a chance that it won’t mix well with a supplement, but the problems can be especially severe with these drugs.
- People who are going to have surgery, because some products may lead to bleeding and other dangerous complications.
- People who’ve had cancer or are getting treated for it. Some supplements could help cancer cells grow or make treatments for the disease less effective.
3 Tips for Storing Vitamins
Supplements don’t last forever, and they need a little care to keep them working well. After you buy them:
- Keep them in a dark, cool, dry place. Avoid bathrooms and other damp spots.
- Make sure you keep them on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet, out of children’s reach.
- Some vitamins and supplements wear out when they sit on the shelf for too long. Do a regular check of your stash and throw out any that are past their expiration date.
- Finally, always let your doctor know about any vitamins or supplements you plan to take, especially if you have a health condition or are on regular medication. Not all products work well for everyone, and some can be dangerous.
Source: Vitamins and Supplements Lifestyle Guide by WebMD. Read full article here.
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