Age Restrictions for Taking Dietary Supplements: A Guide for Every Age

Navigating the vitamin aisle at your local supermarket or pharmacy can be overwhelming. With so many different types of vitamins available, it's hard to know which ones might help you and your loved ones achieve your health and wellness goals. Here's a quick guide to the vitamins you should take at every age. Dietary supplements can be beneficial at any age, but they can also have unwanted side effects, such as unsafe interactions with prescription medications.

Drugs must be approved by the FDA before they can be sold or marketed, while supplements do not require this approval. Supplement companies are responsible for having proof that their products are safe, and the claims on the label are truthful and not misleading. However, as long as the product does not contain a “new dietary ingredient” (one introduced since October 15, 1999), the company does not have to provide these safety tests to the FDA before the product is marketed. Dietary supplements can help improve health, but they can also have risks.

Learn about supplements and how the FDA regulates them to help you stay safe. Newborns should receive 400 IU of vitamin D starting in the first few days of life if they are exclusively breastfed. This should continue until they are weaned and consume at least a quart of whole milk per day. Most formulas in the U.

S. are fortified with vitamin D, so babies who drink at least 32 ounces of baby formula a day don't need supplements. Women should take a prenatal vitamin about three months before conception and continue until they finish breastfeeding. Make sure that the multivitamin complex includes folic acid, as it has been shown to reduce neural defects in the fetus.

Women are at greater risk of iron deficiency anemia due to menstruation, especially if their periods are consistently heavy. These women may need to take an iron supplement if they don't get an adequate amount of iron in their diets. For those who follow plant-based diets, vitamin B12 is a good choice, as it's most commonly found in fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. If you maintain a regular, well-balanced diet that includes foods fortified with vitamin D, you shouldn't need vitamins.

More research shows that vitamin D and calcium are essential for bone health, but it's best to find them through diet and lifestyle rather than taking supplements. Most multivitamins are likely to be safe to take for healthy adults; however, Dr. Moran warns against taking high-dose vitamin supplements and recommends that you talk to your primary care doctor. Patients who have undergone gastric bypass or who have pernicious anemia should take a vitamin B12 supplement, as vitamin B12 is not well absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract of these patients.

If your doctor has told you that you are iron deficient, an iron supplement is recommended. Eat healthy, exercise and optimize your intake of calcium and vitamin D. At any age, if you're a heavy drinker, you can develop deficiencies in vitamins B1 and B6 and in folate. Eating a healthy and balanced diet is key to good health.

Moran recommends talking to your medical provider before starting or stopping any supplement. There are some medical conditions where the doctor may have a specific recommendation. The use of multiple dietary supplements (two, three, and four or more) increased with age; nearly a quarter of adults aged 60 and over (24.9%) reported taking four or more dietary supplements. Recall notices are also posted on the FDA website, or you can sign up to receive FDA notices about recalls and safety alerts.

If you experience an adverse effect, also known as a side effect or adverse reaction, the FDA recommends that you and your health professional report the adverse event to the FDA. Antioxidants remove free radicals from the body's cells and prevent or reduce damage caused by oxidation. While taking a general “broad-spectrum” vitamin and mineral supplement “just in case” poses little health risk and may benefit a person whose diet is restricted and lacks variety, taking vitamin and mineral supplements instead of following a nutritious diet is not recommended. The FDA is the federal agency that oversees both supplements and drugs, but the FDA regulations for dietary supplements are different from those for prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

The use of two dietary supplements (10.2% for people aged 20 to 39, 14.5% for those aged 40 to 59 and 17.3% for those aged 60 and over), three dietary supplements (4.2% for people aged 20 to 39, 7.7% for those aged 40 to 59 and 11.4% for those aged 60 and over) increased with increasing age. The Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines for Americans do not recommend supplements that exceed the recommended dietary amounts for healthy children over one year old who eat a balanced diet. For a list of possible serious reactions to watch out for and to learn how to report an adverse event, see the FDA website How to Report a Problem with Dietary Supplements. Although the FDA doesn't approve dietary supplements, the agency has a role in regulating them. These types of supplements are taken orally either in capsule, tablet, powder or liquid form.

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