Supplemental Vitamins Are Necessary For Optimal Health

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Supplemental Vitamins are Necessary for Optimal Health

Supplemental Vitamins are Necessary for Optimal Health

Vitamin, mineral, and non-nutrient dietary supplements are widely used but vary in their safety and efficacy. Issues include the high requirements for calcium and Vitamin D, the need for crystalline Vitamin B12, the possible health benefits of Vitamin E and fish oils, and drug nutrient interactions with Vitamin K. Older people should discuss their need for, and use of, supplements with their physicians rather than self-prescribe (Shari, 2006).


Vitamin, any of the organic compounds required by the body in small amounts for metabolism, to protect health, and for proper growth in children (Phyllis, 2006). Vitamins supplements assist in the formation of hormones, blood cells, nervous-system chemicals, and genetic material (Michael, 2006). The various vitamins are not chemically related, and most differ in their physiological actions (Mary, 2005). They generally act as catalysts, combining with proteins to create metabolically active enzymes that in turn produce hundreds of important chemical reactions throughout the body (Maggie, 2003).


Without vitamins, many of these reactions would slow down or cease. The intricate ways in which vitamins act on the body, however, are still far from clear (Lester, 2005). The 13 well-identified vitamins are classified according to their ability to be absorbed in fat or water (Kedar, 2006). The fat-soluble vitamins-A, D, E, and K-are generally consumed along with fat-containing foods, and because they can be stored in the body's fat, they do not have to be consumed every day (Johnson, 2005). The water-soluble vitamins-the eight B vitamins and vitamin C-cannot be stored and must be consumed frequently, preferably every day (with the exception of some B vitamins). The body can manufacture only vitamin D; all others must be derived from the diet (Elizabeth, 2006). Lack of them causes a wide range of metabolic and other dysfunctions. In the U.S., since 1940, the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council has published recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients (Earl, 2006).


A multivitamin/mineral supplement does not have direct health benefits, but it will increase the likelihood of meeting the requirements for most vitamins and minerals (Annette, 2005). Supplements marketed to older adults are preferred because they are usually higher in Vitamin B12, and lower in Vitamin K and iron, than are other supplements. No more than one tablet should be taken daily (Abram, 2004).

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium and Vitamin D are required for bone health and possibly for prevention and management of many age-related disorders. Older people need 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium and 1,000 international units (IU) of Vitamin D daily (Shari, 2006). Vitamin D-fortified milk is the richest food source, with 300 mg of calcium and 100 IU of Vitamin D per cup (Phyllis, 2006). In the United States, milk intake is one to two cups daily (or less for some ethnic groups). Thus, most older people need supplements of these nutrients but should not exceed the upper levels (2,500 mg for calcium and 2,000 IU for Vitamin ...
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