Supplements for over 50s may boost diet deficiency

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Older adults Nutrition Vitamin

Men and women over the age of 51 who regularly take dietary
supplements are more likely to get adequate amounts of several
vitamins and minerals than those who do not, a study suggests

Researchers writing in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association​ also found that a substantial portion of people in this age range do not get enough vitamins and minerals from their diet alone and the use of supplements is necessary. Not only do these results give the supplements industry a boost, but they could also help supplement providers in deciding which age group to target with marketing, as well as giving a clear indicator of what nutrients should be included. The researchers had set out to determine the efficacy of supplement practices in compensating for dietary deficits in American men and women. They found that fewer than half of the 4,384 adults studied took supplements daily. Those who did met recommended levels for vitamins A, B and C as well as iron, folate, and zinc, Researcher Rhonda Sebastian from the US Department of Agriculture said: "These widespread inadequacies should be considered when developing recommendations for supplement use for clients in this age group." ​ Sebastian and her team found that from diet alone a significantly smaller proportion of supplement users than nonusers had intakes below the estimated average requirement (EAR) for vitamins A, B-6, and C; folate; zinc; and magnesium. Less than half of both users and nonusers met the EAR for folate, vitamin E, and magnesium from food sources alone. Supplements improved the nutrient intake of older adults, with more than 80 per cent of users meeting the EAR for vitamins A, B6, B12, C, and E, folate, iron, and zinc, but not magnesium, the researchers found. However, some supplement users, particularly men, exceeded tolerable upper intake levels for iron and zinc and a small percentage of women exceeded the upper intake level for vitamin A, they added. They concluded that a large "proportion of older adults do not consume sufficient amounts of many nutrients from foods alone. Supplements compensate to some extent, but only an estimated half of this population uses them daily. "Modifying dietary attitudes may result in a higher rate of supplement use in this at-risk population." ​ had not seen the full results of the study prior to publication. Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association Older Adults Who Use Vitamin/Mineral Supplements Differ from Nonusers in Nutrient Intake Adequacy and Dietary Attitudes ​ doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.05.010​Authors: Rhonda Sebastian, Linda Cleveland, Joseph Goldman, Alanna Moshfegh.

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