Because diets of older adults are often short in
more than one vitamin and mineral, a multiple vitamin-mineral pill taken once a
day may make more sense than single-nutrient pills. For quality, look for USP
(U.S. Pharmacopeia) on the label.
• Don't take megadoses
Look for a supplement that contains a wide variety
of vita-mins and minerals in the appropriate amounts, usually no more than 100
percent of the Daily Value (DV). Check the contents to make sure you're not
getting too much of any nutrient, which can be harmful. Talk with your doctor
or pharmacist if you have questions.
• Check the iron
Some studies suggest that excess iron can raise the risk of
heart disease and colon cancer for women beyond menopause and for men of any
age. For these people, it's probably wise to use a pill with little or no iron
- 8 milligrams (mg) or less.
• Get enough calcium
People over 50 need 1,200 mg of calcium a day, but typical-ly
consume only 700 to 800 mg a day. A multivitamin can only include about 200 mg
of calcium because a larger amount would make the pill too big to swallow. See
'Consider a calcium supplement,' p. 11.
• Get enough vitamin D
This helps the body absorb calcium and is essential
to main-tain proper bone strength. Because many older adults don't get regular
exposure to sunlight and have trouble absorbing vitamin D, taking a
multivitamin with 400 to 600 internation-al units (IU) will probably help
improve bone health.
• Look for vitamin B-12
Adequate levels of this vitamin may reduce your risk
of anemia, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Older adults often don't absorb
this vitamin well. A multivitamin with at least 2 micrograms (mcg) may help.