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Recommended Vitamin Intake for Senior Males

01/21/2000

Question:

What is correct vitamin/mineral supplement for male who is 66 years old?

Answer:

Thank you for your timely question. Many people are turning to vitamin and mineral supplements to protect or improve their health, but they ignore the importance of the food they eat. Before deciding on a supplement, review your own intake. Do you follow the seven strategies for healthful eating which make up the Dietary Guidelines for Americans? These guidelines were developed jointly by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The guidelines include: Eat a variety of foods Balance the food you eat with physical activity so you maintain or improve your weight Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, vegetables and fruit Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol Choose a diet moderate in sugar Choose a diet moderate in salt and sodium If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. To make these guidelines more useable, the USDA and DHHS developed the Food Guide Pyramid. To help you evaluate your diet, go to the American Dietetic Association website and click on Rate Your Plate. If your food intake meets the guidelines, there are supplements you may want to take to give you that insurance that your basic nutrient needs are met.

If you are currently taking medications prescribed by your physician or self-prescribed, check with your physician and/or your pharmacist before taking any supplements. There is evidence that a general multivitamin and mineral supplement can help strengthen the immune system and reduce infections in older people. Look for a multivitamin/mineral supplement that contains: 1.) 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12. The National Academy of Science now recommends all people older than 50 take a supplement that contains vitamin B12 or that these individuals eat breakfast cerals fortified with B12. 2.) up to 400 international units (IU) (600IU after age 70) of vitamin D because as the body ages it is not as able to make vitamin D from sunlight. 3.) no more than 100 - 200% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin A. As the body ages, it is hard to remove vitamin A from the blood, and it can reach dangerous levels if high supplementation is used. 4.) as little iron as possible. This is true for men and postmenopausal women. 5.) up to 250 milligrams vitamin C.

There appears to be additional benefits to be gained by getting more than the recommended intake of this vitamin with powerful antioxidant properties. 6.) 400 micrograms folic acid and 1.7 milligrams vitamin B6. These vitamins along with vitamin B12 can lower blood levels of homocysteine, possibly reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. 7.) up to 800 IU of vitamin E. Evidence from several clinical trials have sugessted that vitamin E may protect against cardiovascular events. In a study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, patients with a high risk for cardiovascular events who were treated with 400 IU of vitamin E were as likely as those treated with a placebo to have further heart complications such as a stroke, cardiac arrest or heart-related death. This is a good example why our first line of defense needs to be the food we eat.

If we choose to use supplements at higher than normally recommended levels, we should discuss this with our physician or pharmacist, and carefully weigh the risks and the benefits. 8.) 1200 milligrams calcium. The multiviatmin/mineral upplement will not meet your total recommended need because calcium requires too much space for one pill. If you are not eating at least 4 servings of dairy or calcium-fortified foods daily, consider an additional supplement. Osteoporosis, a conditon resulting from a loss of calcium from the bones, affects men as well as women. I do hope you will consider the food you eat first. Then if you decide a supplement is right for you, I hope this information will help in choosing the one that is right for you.

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Response by:

Shirley A Kindrick, PhD Shirley A Kindrick, PhD
Former Team Leader of Comprehensive Weight Management
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University