Before we begin this “Best of” article, perhaps we should define “senior.” It seems the term has different meanings depending upon whom you ask. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age in America is 37.8 years, so once you reach 37.9, you’re in the senior half of the population. However, the Bureau generally considers 65 and over as our “older population.” AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, starts sending you membership invitations when you turn 50. And the Social Security Administration allows you to apply for Medicare at 65 but is moving back full retirement benefits from age 65 to 67.
Today’s Boomers have an average life expectancy of ten to fifteen years longer than that of their parents. Still, not all Boomers are healthier due to higher levels of diabetes and obesity.
Perhaps Bette Davis said it best, “Getting old is not for sissies.” As we age, we start to notice the physical changes that have been occurring gradually: thinning, graying hair, a little less muscle mass, a little more fat around the midsection, the need for reading glasses, wrinkled skin, and so on.
However, most of us believe in our hearts that you’re only as old as you feel. In this article, we’ll investigate one strategy for extending the prime of life and mitigating the effects of aging, vitamin, and mineral supplementation. So let’s dive in and find out more about multivitamins and what the best multivitamin for seniors is.
The Vitamin And Nutritional Supplement Business
The vitamin and nutritional supplement business in the U.S. is significant, with revenues exceeding $32 billion in 2019. Today, vitamins and minerals are the most frequently used dietary supplements. As we age, we become deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, as, for many, the nutrients we derive from diet alone may not be enough. Today’s consumer has a growing interest in general health and wellness, fueling nutritional supplements’ demand.
Other growing areas of focus include preventative health, and a trend towards more age-specific products that help with memory loss, physical performance, muscle retention, skincare, and more.
In a Statista.com survey conducted in 2018, approximately 70 percent of the U.S. population stated that they used dietary supplements. Since 2007, household spending on nonprescription vitamins has nearly doubled from $46 to almost $80 annually. Most respondents indicated that they take a multivitamin or a vitamin D supplement.
What Are Vitamins And Minerals?
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that our bodies need to develop and function normally. They are often called micronutrients because your body needs only tiny amounts of them. Yet failing to get even those small quantities can virtually guarantee problems. Since your body produces only limited amounts of vitamins, you’re dependent on diet and supplementation to meet your daily requirements.
There are two types of vitamins, water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are not stored by the body. Since they are eliminated in urine, we require a daily supply in our diet. The water-soluble vitamins include the vitamin B-complex group, vitamin C, and vitamin A in its beta-carotene form. Fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K, are stored in fat before they are absorbed into the bloodstream. Any excess of these vitamins is stored in the liver, and they are not needed every day.
Multivitamins and multi-minerals are the most frequently used dietary supplements in the natural products industry. Technically, a multivitamin is any supplement that contains more than one vitamin. In practice, most multivitamins contain a broad spectrum of vitamins and essential minerals. People consider these supplements a form of insurance against any potential deficiencies. Remember, MVMs are a supplement; they supplement your dietary intake and should not take the place of eating a variety of healthy foods. A healthy diet provides far more than just vitamins and minerals.
Who needs to supplement with a multivitamin/mineral product? Those who don’t get sufficient vitamins and minerals from their diet, who have certain medical conditions and those with a vitamin deficiency, may benefit from taking a single-ingredient supplement or an MVM. For many supplementing with a single-nutrient supplement, such as vitamin C or D, maybe all that is required.
Since the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for vitamins and minerals differ by gender, we support gender-specific products. As an example, most males should avoid using iron supplements or a multivitamin/mineral containing more than their Recommended Daily Allowance for iron, 8 mg per day.
Speaking of RDAs, please see the chart below of Vitamin and Mineral Recommended Daily Allowances as reprinted from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
A few definitions may aid you in reviewing the above:
- Mcg = microgram, or one-millionth of a gram
- IU = an International Unit
Vitamin And Mineral Deficiencies In Seniors
Caloric intake declines as we age. Some foods become difficult to chew or digest, and, as our ability to taste food lessens, our appetite decreases. This is compounded by the fact that the body is less efficient at absorbing specific nutrients making it difficult to get adequate nutrition as you get older.
There are several key vitamins and minerals, as well as other nutrients that may be deficient as you get older. Over 35 percent of all adults 65 and older have some deficiency. Here are some of the top vitamins and nutrients to monitor:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Folate / Folic Acid
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- CoQ 10
- Omega 3s
Clinical Studies On Vitamin Deficiencies
Quoting the NCBI, the National Center for Biotechnology Information in laymen’s terms, we cite several studies which relate the importance of vitamin and mineral supplementation.
An Association Of Vitamins And Disease For Nine Vitamins
Evidence of associations of vitamins and disease states have been found for nine vitamins. In observational studies, people with a high intake of antioxidant vitamins by regular diet or as food supplements generally have a lower risk of significant chronic diseases, such as myocardial infarction or stroke, than people who are moderate consumers of antioxidant vitamins. Folate appears to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects. Vitamin D is associated with a decreased occurrence of fractures when taken with calcium. Zinc and vitamin E seem to slow the progression of macular degeneration, but do not reduce the incidence. Vitamin E and lycopene may decrease the risk of prostate cancer
The Free Radical Theory Of Aging
The Free Radical Theory of Aging proposed that damage to cellular mechanisms and tissues occurs because of damage resulting from oxidative stress on the organism due to free oxygen radicals. Endogenous oxidative damage to proteins, lipids, and DNA is thought to be a contributing factor in aging and the development of chronic diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis, and cataract formation.
There is a hypothesized effect, which relates to antioxidant vitamins and aging. Certain “antioxidant” compounds might “scavenge” these damaging free oxygen radicals and prevent cellular destruction and aging. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, often referred to as “antioxidant vitamins,” have been suggested to limit oxidative damage in humans and lower the risk of certain chronic diseases.
Vitamin/Mineral Deficiencies In Seniors
Aging is associated with an increased risk for low vitamin consumption. In the United States, total energy intake decreases substantially with age: by 1000 kcal–1200 kcal in men and 600 kcal–800 kcal in women in the seventh decade. This results in declines in most nutrient intakes. Lower food intake among the elderly has been associated with lower intakes of calcium, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and vitamin E. This low energy intake or low nutrient density of the diet may increase the risk of diet-related illnesses. Fifty percent of older adults have a vitamin and mineral intake less than the recommended daily allowance (RDA), while 10%–30% have subnormal levels of vitamins and minerals.
Some Benefits Of Multivitamins For Seniors
- Increases Nutrient Intake, particularly for those with poor diets
- May Help Prevent Chronic Diseases
- Enhanced Energy
- Combats Free Radicals
- Brain Function
- Eye Health
Many multivitamins and minerals also include condition-specific ingredients to address weight management, energy, stress reduction, cognition, and immunity support.
Will A Multivitamin/Mineral Supplement Benefit Me?
If you aren’t getting adequate vitamins and minerals from your diet, if you have a medical condition or a vitamin deficiency, you will benefit from a multivitamin and mineral. For those over 65, a multi is an excellent option to ensure you meet your recommended daily allowances.
We consider multivitamins a very cost-effective method to protect yourself against vitamin deficiencies.
We recommend one of two methods for proper dosing:
- The simpler method is to follow the dosage guidelines on our Best of Supplements – the doses in these standard multivitamins are safe
- Using the RDA chart, ensure you meet your requirements for vital nutrients through a combination of diet and supplementation
One word of caution on dosing; the appropriate dosage often depends on solubility. You will remember there are two types of vitamins:
- Water-soluble – your body expels excess amounts of these vitamins
- Fat-soluble – with no easy process to eliminate fat-soluble, excess amounts may accumulate over long periods
Are Multivitamins For Seniors Safe?
As always, we recommend consulting with your medical professional before adding any vitamin or mineral supplement. This is especially important for individuals with medical conditions or those on prescription medicines, as these products have the potential to interact with medications. You should also advise your pharmacist when initiating a multivitamin/mineral regimen.
Most medical and nutrition experts agree that the best way to get the vitamins and minerals we need is through a balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Below is a recommended selection of nutrient-dense foods for your consideration:
- Bell Peppers
- Lean Beef
- Brown Rice
- Brussels Sprouts
- Fish and Shellfish
- Sweet Potatoes
- Low-Fat Yogurt
Best Multivitamin For Seniors
The most popular, and the best-selling brands, do not necessarily make our Best of Multivitamin/Mineral list. Below is a chart listing the bestselling brands in the U.S. today, courtesy of Statista.com.
For our selection of the best Multivitamin supplements, we scoured the market for brands that adhere to the following principles:
- Products that are manufactured in a certified cGMP facility (Good Manufacturing Practices)
- We like and support an MVM that is gender-specific
- We looked for companies and brands that have independent third-party testing and money-back guarantees
- Our picks tend to be natural, allergen-free, and made without fillers, additives, or artificial colors
Ritual is our top choice of multivitamin supplements for seniors. Ritual produces a variety of vitamins and supplements, two of which are designed for those aged 50+. Essential for Men 50+ is their multivitamin designed for men age 50 years or older. Its ingredients include a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, zinc, and magnesium among others. For women 50 years old or older, they have their Essential for Women 50+. This multivitamin includes ingredients such as vitamin D, E, B12 and K as well as folate and magnesium amongst other ingredients. Both multivitamins are vegan-friendly.GET THE BEST PRICE ON RITUAL MULTIVITAMINS
One of our top choices for multivitamins for seniors is Rootine vitamins. Rootine vitamins are personalized vitamins that are prescribed in specific doses for your body. Rootine starts by having you take a test to tell about your lifestyle, any health data you have, and more. You can then view your results to see a detailed analysis of your nutrient and dosage requirements. From there Rootine will create a personalized supplement pack designed for your body. Rootine makes use of your specific health information and genetic factors to provide you with a supplement pack that fits your lifestyle and needs.GET THE BEST PRICE ON ROOTINE VITAMINS
Mega Men 50 Plus, from GNC
From the creator of GNC Mega Men Sport comes GNC’s Mega Men 50 Plus One Daily Multivitamin. It provides key nutrients for men’s health, heart, brain, and eye health, plus over 20 vitamins and minerals. The product also features essential ingredients for prostate health: Saw Palmetto Berry Extract, Pumpkin Seed Meal and Lycopene, and Gingko Biloba Extract to support mental sharpness.
GNC provides 100% or more of the RDA of more than 15 vitamins and minerals.GET THE BEST PRICE ON GNC MEGA MEN 50 PLUS
Mature Multi, Adult 50 Plus from Kirkland Signature
Look at our Best-Selling Brands chart, and you will notice the largest brand is actually private label offerings. Mature Multi is our value pick in the private label world. Kirkland Signature is the private label for Costco products.
The Kirkland product is USP Verified, specially formulated with calcium to support bone, teeth, and muscle health, and is fortified with Lycopene and Lutein, for additional vision support. The productGET THE BEST PRICE ON MATURE MULTI
Women Over 55 One Daily, from Mega Food
Mega Food meets all our criteria, Non-GMO, Vegetarian, manufactured in a cGMP facility, third-party tested, dairy, and soy-free.
This product is made with real food, oranges, broccoli, and brown rice. It is tailored specifically for a women’s needs with B vitamins, 40 mcg of vitamin D to help maintain bone health, and beta carotene and vitamins C and E to aid immune health.
Gentle on the stomach – take one tablet any time of day, even on an empty stomach.GET THE BEST PRICE ON WOMEN OVER 55 ONE DAILY
Advanced Nutrients, from Thorne Research
This multivitamin/mineral is designed for aging Boomers, serious athletes, or those who need extra antioxidant support. The product is dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free, with no artificial flavors.
This updated formula now includes nicotinamide riboside (niagen) to support healthy aging, neurological support, cognition support, liver support, and muscle support. It also contains resveratrol, quercetin, bilberry, and more vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium.GET THE BEST PRICE ON THORNE ADVANCED NUTRIENTS
Stacking Other Supplements With Multivitamins
The above products are an excellent base to meet your vitamin and mineral requirements. As with other supplements, adding to this base depends on your area of focus. For seniors, this might include products to address digestive health, cognitive function, bone health, eye health, or heart health.
To Summarize: Multivitamins For Seniors
If your diet has too little of any vitamin or mineral, multivitamins are a great, low-cost way to protect yourself against vitamin deficiencies – it’s like an affordable insurance policy.