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J Nutr Elder. 2008;27(3-4):297-317. doi: 10.1080/01639360802265855.

Vitamin and mineral supplements: barriers and challenges for older adults.

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  • 1Department of Foods and Nutrition, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


Older adults are particularly vulnerable to deficiencies of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Despite the availability of fortified foods in the United States, intakes of these nutrients among the elderly remain inadequate. Dietary supplements may be a convenient way to improve nutritional status within this population group. This article provides practical and evidence-based recommendations regarding the use of single vitamin/mineral and multivitamin/mineral (MVM) supplements in older adults and provides details on calcium and vitamin D, B12, E, and K. Some single-nutrient supplements have shown benefits for preventing or reducing risks for chronic diseases. Although MVM supplements have not been shown to prevent several major chronic diseases, they do substantially increase vitamin and mineral intakes and blood concentrations, thus improving overall micronutrient status. Older adults who use MVM and/or vitamin/mineral supplements to foster better nutritional and health status should read labels carefully and consult their health care provider to ensure appropriate dietary supplement use.

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