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J Nutr Elder. 2009 Jan-Mar;28(1):5-29. doi: 10.1080/01639360802640545.

Nutritional supplements for older adults: review and recommendations-part I.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA.


The majority of older adults take nutritional supplements (NS) to prevent deficiencies and/or because they are interested in the potential health promoting effects of these nutrients. This review explores the evidence of benefit for supplements of multivitamin/minerals (MVM), antioxidant nutrients, and vitamin D/calcium. Major conclusions include the following: While recommendations that older adults take a daily MVM are common, there is limited scientific support for the health-related efficacy of these supplements. In contrast, a number of antioxidant nutrients have been extensively studied. The evidence does not support a recommendation for vitamins A, C, E, or antioxidant combinations in the prevention of CVD or cancer. Based on encouraging preliminary findings, more study is recommended on the benefit of antioxidant supplements for age-related macular degeneration and of selenium for cancer prevention. In contrast to the state of the art for antioxidant supplements, there is strong and compelling support for the health benefits of supplements of Vitamin D and calcium when intake/status of these nutrients is not optimal. Thus, specific recommendations for these supplements in older adults are warranted.

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