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Anna Preston
by on December 18, 2018
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As we age our ability to absorb and metabolise vitamins and minerals from food decreases leading to potential health problems. Over 65s, in particular, are one of the groups that need to take extra supplements but there is so much conflicting advice out there on what – and how many – to take. But when vitamin supplements are so varied and so expensive should you be worried that your loved one may be taking too many unnecessary supplements – or the wrong ones? And could taking them be dangerous? With the help of a live-in carer it’s easier to regulate nutrient intake but for peace of mind read on for advice. Are supplements necessary? Those prescribed by GPs are but there may be some which aren’t strictly necessary for your loved one. Iron, for example, is important in the production of oxygen-giving red blood cells and can be obtained from a normal healthy diet. Iron supplements should only be taken if prescribed by a GP where a person has a known iron deficiency. Calcium is GP prescribed where there is a danger of bone fractures in the elderly but excessive doses of calcium can cause stomach pain and diarrhoea. B vitamins perform multiple tasks in the body including keeping the skin and nervous system functioning, helping in the formation of red blood cells and helping the absorption of nutrients and energy from food. A well-balanced diet that includes fortified cereals, yeast extract and whole grains should provide all the B vitamins necessary but GPs agree that a supplement with a dosage of 2mg or less daily will cause no harm. Vitamin C is helpful as an antioxidant in the fight against disease and infections and many people swear by it to ward off colds although there is no proven evidence for this. A diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables will provide all the vitamin C that the body needs. Interaction with medication Some prescribed medications can be adversely affected by taking vitamin supplements. If your loved one is prescribed blood-thinning medicines care must be taken to not take excessive amounts of vitamin C or vitamin K as this can interfere with the blood clotting mechanism and can lead to a risk of increased clotting. Some blood pressure medicines can be affected by vitamin B3 which, in a dose larger than 75mg can lead to excessive dilation of blood vessels and reduce the efficacy of prescribed medication. Vitamin D can adversely affect heart medication by affecting the blood calcium levels which can lead to an irregular heartbeat. There is research suggesting that the effectiveness of medications to treat cancer or kidney disease can also be compromised by taking vitamin supplements. It’s clear that the issue of whether or not your loved one should take extra vitamins is not straightforward. To help your loved one to decide, find out more at the Live-in Care Hub .
Posted in: Health
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