Dietary supplements are meant to provide the additional nutrients that the daily diet might miss. Dietary supplements usually contain different proportions of vitamins, herbals, enzymes, minerals, fatty and amino acids, animal extracts and botanicals. These dietary supplements are available in different types like tablets, pills, capsules, liquid or powder, dried ingredient or concentrate. These dietary supplements should not be mistaken as compensating for daily diet, they are just additional nutrients required for the body for proper functioning.
Till date dietary supplements have not been classified as medication or drugs. In absence of this classification their effectiveness and safety is not regulated or approved by the government. Care and caution needs to be practised when taking theses dietary supplement for the elderly. They should not be taken unless prescribed by a physician, as any overdose has the potential to cause harm to the body, even the seemingly harmless dietary supplements like vitamin A and D fortified cereals and drinks. Any consumption of theses nutrients greater than their recommended daily value (DV) is not considered safe and can create havoc with your medication. So it is better never to but these over the counter nutrients without the advice of a qualified medical practitioner.
Given below is a list of few nutrients in dietary supplements together with function and intake.
Vitamin D: The elderly are often unable to spend enough time in the sun, making their skin unable to synthesize this nutrient causing its deficiency. Moreover Vitamin D synthesis needs the presence of Vitamin A, phosphorus and calcium and this synthesis can be impaired by intake of certain antibiotics, laxatives, mineral oil and alcohol. The ideal advised required Vitamin D in a person is 600 IU per day and any dose above 200 IU should be taken under supervision by a qualified medical practitioner. A deficiency in this vitamin can cause muscle and bone weakness, and Osteomalacia.
Calcium: This nutrient is essential to maintain the health of teeth and bones and regulate muscle and nerve function. It is also needed for blood clotting and for monitoring blood pressure and enzymes. Phosphorus, vitamin D and magnesium are needed for the absorption of calcium on the body and the process can be inhibited by alcohol consumption, oxalic acids in the chocolates, excess salt, phosphorus and protein intake, and B complex pills. Defeciency of this nutrient can cause conditions like Osteoporosis, muscle spasms, cramps, Joint pain, high blood pressure and heart palpitation. An elderly person can consume 1000-1200 mg of calcium per day.
Folate: Folates together with vitamin B12 are required for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Folates help in the production of RNA and DNA proteins. Folates require vitamins like B6, B12 and C for its absorption in the body. The elements that can impair its absorption are alcohol consumption, analgesics like aspirin, anticonvulsants, acidic or heat exposure. Inadequate intake of folate can cause Anemia, depression, problems in nerves, an cardiovascular conditions. An elderly person can tale maximum up to 400 ug of folate every day.
Vitamin B12: Also called Cobalamine, this nutrient is needed for the formation and regeneration of red blood cells and for a healthy well functioning nervous system. Any deficiency in this vitamin can lead to problems in the nerves or Anemia. An elderly person requires 2.4 ug of this vitamin everyday.
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