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Diet and Nutrition

Vitamins for age 50+

07/30/2005

Question:

I have been taking Olay multivitamins for over a year now and I love them. They`re reasonably priced and there are always coupons available. Recently I noticed they were on sale so I bought a bottle. A week later I realized I bought vitamins for women aged 50+. I am only 25. Will it hurt me to take these vitamins or do I need to stick to a normal multivitamin specific to my age range? I take an additioanl folic acid vitamin every morning and in addition to the two (folic/multi), I eat a Viactiv chew every morning. I`m not concerned that I`m not getting all the vitamins I need but I am concerned that there might be something I do not need to take.

Answer:

This is an excellent question as there are literally thousands of different vitamin formulations on the market.  The Olay vitamins for women over 50 will not hurt you, but may contain less of some nutrients that are still needed for women your age.  For example, women over 50 require less iron because they are typically in menopause and no longer lose iron from monthly menstrual cycles.  A vitamin formulation made for women over 50 may contain less iron or none at all.  If you are eating a diet containing foods high in iron (meat, fish, poultry, eggs and fortified grains), you're less likely to become iron deficient.  If you are vegetarian or vegan, you may want to purchase a separate iron supplement in addition to taking the Olay vitamin for women over 50.  Complete vegetarians (vegans) should take a multi-vitamin containing vitamin B12 as animal foods are the only source of this nutrient.  A separate B12 supplement is not necessary for most healthy people.

The Olay vitamins for women over 50 are higher in some nutrients such as zinc, vitamin B 12 and other B vitamins.  The calcium content is the same (250 mg) and the additional (higher values) of B vitamins and zinc are in non-toxic levels.

As for the other supplements you are taking, you likely don't need additional folic acid as the RDA (400 micrograms) is usually present in a one-a-day type formulation.  It's great that you are thinking of taking folic acid in the first place as all women of childbearing age should do this.  Fifty percent of pregnancies are unplanned and folic acid is needed to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida.  If you are considering pregnancy, taking the additional folic acid won't hurt you as folic acid is not toxic.

Finally, the Viactiv chew is an excellent calcium supplement and, most women do not meet the RDA for calcium (1000 mg/day for women between 19 and 50).  You may have noticed that the new Food Guide Pyramid advises us to consume 3 servings from the dairy group (vs 2).  Calcium is better absorbed with food, so I suggest taking (or eating) your calcium supplement after meals for better absorption.  Try to take your multi-vitamin at a separate time as the calcium supplement can bind the iron in your vitamin.  I hope this information was helpful.

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Response by:

Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Adjunct Faculty
University of Cincinnati