How to Choose the Best Supplements for Seniors for a Nourished Life

Posted :
December 20, 2023
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SF Care Services
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As we age, our nutritional needs evolve. Yet many seniors find it challenging to meet these needs through diet alone. This gap leads to deficiencies affecting overall health, vitality, and quality of life. Supplements help fill those dietary gaps — but how do you know which are the best supplements for seniors?

Supplements can be a great way to enhance senior health and wellness. But you’ll need to understand which supplements to choose. This guide is tailored to senior supplement usage. Helping you select the right nutrition supplements for seniors, so you can maintain an independent lifestyle.

Why Seniors May Need Supplements

Many seniors don’t get enough of the key nutrients which are vital for healthy aging. Often causing nutritional deficiencies in the elderly. That’s because as we get older, several changes affect how our bodies process and absorb nutrients:

  • Metabolic Rate: Our metabolic rate slows down with age, and while that reduces calorie needs it doesn’t reduce the need for nutrients.
  • Digestive System: Changes in the digestive system make it less efficient at absorbing nutrients.
  • Appetite Reduction: Many seniors experience a decrease in appetite, often due to changes in taste, smell, or medications that suppress appetite.
  • Chronic Conditions: Health issues like diabetes or heart disease can impact nutrient absorption and requirements.
  • Medication Interactions: Some medications can deplete certain nutrients or interfere with their absorption.

Even something as simple as dietary restrictions or limited access to certain foods can create nutritional imbalances. In these instances, supplements for seniors can be incredibly beneficial for maintaining your health.

Identifying Nutritional Deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies aren’t always easy to recognize. But if you’re unusually tired all the time, frequently get sick, or slow to heal — that could signal nutritional gaps. Also, pay attention to symptoms like hair loss or muscle weakness, and discuss these with your doctor.

Regular health check-ups are the best way to identify deficiencies. Blood tests reveal levels of crucial nutrients like Vitamin D, B12, and iron.

Senior Woman Taking Omega 3 EPA DHA SupplementsKey Supplements for Seniors

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is crucial for bone health. It supports the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. It also plays a vital role in immune function. Which helps protect you from certain diseases.

With age, the skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight decreases. Plus seniors usually spend less time outdoors. Further reducing their Vitamin D levels.

Adults over 50 should take a daily supplement of 10 micrograms (400 IU) of Vitamin D.


Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth. It also helps with muscle function, nerve signalling, and blood clotting.

Bone density is vital to functional fitness and often decreases with age. Which increases the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. When the body’s ability to absorb calcium diminishes, supplements might be necessary for some seniors.

Anyone over 50 should aim for a total (i.e. from food and supplements) daily calcium intake of 1200 micrograms. Most tablets have a calcium content of 300 micrograms or less, so you’ll need to get the other 900 micrograms from food sources.

B Vitamins (B12 and Folate)

Vitamin B12 is vital for nerve function as well as the production of DNA and red blood cells. Folate aids in cell division and is particularly important for rapidly dividing cells.

Absorption of B12 often decreases with age due to changes in the stomach lining. While folate deficiencies occur due to poor diet or certain medications.

Seniors often need higher amounts of B12. The recommended daily intake for B12 is 2.4 micrograms for older adults. Folate recommendations are around 400 micrograms per day for seniors. Supplements for seniors might say vitamin B9 instead of “folate” so just remember they are the same thing.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s are essential for brain health and reducing senior cognitive decline. It’s also important for heart health and reducing inflammation. All of which can be used to prevent or manage heart disease, arthritis, and other age-related conditions.

The main source of omega-3s is primarily seafood. This is why seniors may have a hard time getting these essential fats from diet alone.

The guideline for seniors is to have 1.1 to 1.6 grams of omega-3 per day.

Special Considerations for Seniors

Seniors have unique health needs and may be on medications. Healthcare providers can recommend supplements that factor in medications, health conditions, lifestyle, and dietary habits. Ensuring seniors can safely and effectively incorporate supplements into their health regimen.

Interactions with Existing Medications

Some supplements can alter the effectiveness of medications or cause side effects. Even those that are over-the-counter. For instance, Vitamin K can interfere with blood thinners, so certain supplements might impact blood pressure medication.

That’s why it’s crucial to inform healthcare providers about all supplements being taken, so they can prevent harmful interactions.

Managing Chronic Conditions with Supplements

Supplements can support the management of severe conditions like osteoporosis, arthritis, or heart disease. However, this should only be done in consultation with your doctor. Seniors should also continue getting regular check-ups to ensure their supplements are effectively supporting their health.

Elderly man consulting with a female doctor about medicationHow to Choose High-Quality Supplements

Selecting the right nutrition supplements for seniors requires attention to detail and a little research. It’s important to choose the right brand and ingredients, as well as understand the difference between organic and synthetic options.

Selecting a Brand

Go for brands with a good track record. Check for third-party testing and proper certifications.

Trusted sources include healthcare websites, medical journals, and consumer reports focused on supplement quality. Like the Canadian Pharmacists Journal or Health Canada advisories.

For certifications, look for institutions such as Health Canada’s Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate (NNHPD) or the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA).

These organizations ensure the supplement meets Canadian health and safety standards.

Finding Quality Ingredients

Understanding the source and form will help you choose high-quality ingredients in your nutrition supplements for seniors.

The ‘source’ refers to where the ingredient comes from (natural sources or synthetically created). The ‘form’ is how the ingredient is presented, like getting magnesium in the form of magnesium citrate or magnesium oxide.

Look for supplements that specify their source and use bioavailable forms. These will be easier for the body to absorb and utilize.

Avoiding Fillers and Additives

Fillers are non-nutritive substances used to create bulk, texture, or stability in supplements.

To identify them, read the ingredient list and look for substances that do not provide any nutritional benefit. The Health Canada list of permitted food additives can also be useful in identifying fillers in supplements.

Common fillers include:

  • Talc
  • Hydrogenated Oils
  • Artificial Colours
  • Magnesium Stearate
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Cellulose

Lifestyle Tips for Enhanced Absorption

Getting the most from nutrition supplements for seniors involves more than just taking them. To maximize the benefits of supplements, seniors should consider their overall lifestyle, including diet, physical activity, and hydration.

Combining Supplements with a Healthy Diet

Supplements work best with a balanced diet. Include a variety of nutrient-rich foods in your meals for proper senior nutrition to improve your health. A “balanced diet” is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

This provides a foundation that supplements can build upon.

Certain foods can also enhance the absorption of supplements. For example, fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin D are better absorbed when taken with meals containing healthy fats.

Physical Activity to Maximize Supplement Benefits

Regular exercise helps your body use supplements effectively. It boosts your metabolism, which improves the body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients from both food and supplements.

Physical activity, not only aids in nutrient absorption but also contributes to better health overall. Making the body more receptive to supplements.

Try one of Coquitlam’s senior fitness centres if you find it hard to stay motivated to stay fit at home.

Hydration and Its Impact on Supplement Effectiveness

Drink plenty of water. Adequate hydration is crucial for the absorption of water-soluble vitamins and helps nutrients get transported throughout the body. So when your body is well-hydrated, it can process and utilize supplements more effectively.

Choosing the Best Supplements for Seniors

Choosing the best supplements for seniors involves understanding your unique health needs. Consult with healthcare professionals to make informed decisions. With the right supplements, you can enjoy a more nourished life in your senior years. Healthy aging is your ticket to independent living as a senior.