FDA: Can Dietary Supplements Help Older Consumers?

Even if you eat a wide variety of foods, how can you be sure that you are getting all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you need as you get older? If you are over 50, your nutritional needs may change. Informed food choices are the first place to start, making sure you get a variety of foods while watching your calorie intake. Supplements and fortified foods may also help you get appropriate amounts of nutrients. To help you make informed decisions, talk to your doctor and/or registered dietitian. They can work together with you to determine if your intake of a specific nutrient might be too low or too high and then decide how you can achieve a balance between the foods and nutrients you personally need. Advice for all consumers from FDA: Ask yourself the following questions and use the checklist below to talk to your doctor nurse, dietitian, pharmacist, and/or caregiver about dietary supplements. 1. Is taking a dietary supplement an important part of my total diet? 2. Are there any precautions or warnings I should know about (e.g. is there an amount or “upper limit” I should not go above)? 3. Are there any known side effects (e.g., loss of appetite, nausea, headaches, etc.)? Do they apply to me? 4. Are there any foods, medicines (prescription or over-the counter), or other supplements I should avoid while taking this product? 5. If I am scheduled for surgery, should I be concerned about the dietary supplements I am taking? Other Questions to Consider 1. What is this product for? 2. What are its intended benefits? 3. How, when and for how long should I take it?