A recent article on the New York Times states that more than 50% of Americans take vitamin supplements. Among those are over 65, the percentage rises to 68%. Similar numbers concern many western countries, Europe in particular, where there is a widespread belief that vitamins can never be enough. When does taking multivitamin supplements become important?
More than 70% 0f 60+ Americans are used to having at least one type of vitamin supplement, as a study published by the Journal Of Nutrition in 2017 says, we can imagine the statistics for the vitamin market in the next five years will be interestingly increasing. However, what makes the data actually different from some other geographic realities is how the supplements are advertised. It is not a sole suggestion of the doctor when looking at the patient’s blood analyses anymore, it is not even the TV commercials we see everyday, which vary when the season changes, but it is rather websites and social media the main means to reach new consumers.
Furthermore, because of the aesthetic factor, that has to be expressed in the form of beautifully-packaged multivitamins, now supplements have to be appealing in their consistency and use- consumers requiring them to be a gummy or liquid-shaped experience.
What is the purpose of taking vitamins and food supplements?
Vitamins and food supplements are an effective way to improve health and well-being. Other purposes are to prevent diseases and to counteract the effects of age and wrong habits- little to none physical exercise, smoking and excessive eating combined with a poor diet. Other aims are the reintegration of mineral losses and the growth of muscle mass.
Vitamin supplements in the elderly
This leads to some of them to be willing to preserve their state of health and maintain their physical performance for as long as possible. Generally, it is possible to say there is a lot of attention and trust towards the idea that vitamins can avoid and prevent the onset of certain diseases.
A different topic concerns the over-75s. For this category, in addition to the social and economic situation that could compromise a healthy, balanced diet, we must take into account any problem related to chewing and possible difficulties in finding fresh food every day. In this case it becomes very important to make up for vitamin deficiencies through supplements, which should always, be taken under medical instructions.
Multivitamin supplements vs proper nutrition
In a young or healthy adult, a well-balanced diet is enough to bring the necessary vitamins in, while conditions of deficiency should be managed under medical supervision, never with a do-it-yourself approach.
Another important point is that vitamins must be taken in well-defined quantities. If these are exceeded, as can happen in orthorexic patients, there is a risk of serious consequences. Vitamin A, often taken as tablets to stimulate tanning, is a fat-soluble molecule that accumulates in the liver. If the quantity exceeds the level necessary for the body’s needs, the system is altered.
A commonly used supplement is folic acid. It is usually recommended to pregnant women with the aim of preventing neural tube defects in the fetus. In this case, it is possible to talk about real prevention, since its assumption must start at least one or two months before conception, and not when the pregnancy has already begun.
In addition to folic acid, in recent years many scientists have focused on the study of vitamin D, in order to define its role and possible uses.
While scientific researches are discovering more and more organic functions for this molecule, on the other hand, we spend less and less hours outside. In addition to that, because of sunscreens, the body’s ability to synthesize the molecule is reduced.
Along with vitamin D, another supplement to be taken by adults aged >65 is calcium. It is fundamental for a good maintenance of bone health, something that becomes weaker as we age.
What you don’t need to buy
Think twice, instead, before taking fish oil and vitamin B- unless you are affected by a disease that requires a specific daily amount of them, those supplements are only effectively processed by our organism through the intake of fish, cereal, and products that contain grain.