Healthy Food

Healthy eating #5: Things to know about supplements (by age)

You only need to take the right vitamin or mineral supplement for your age and unique health needs. Remember, food first! Then if you need a supplement, here’s what health experts advise as a daily guideline, depending on your age:

- 20s, 30s, or 40s: folic acid (400 micrograms for women) if you’re pregnant or capable of pregnancy, to avoid birth defects; perhaps calcium (up to about 1,000 milligrams, more—1,200 milligrams—for menopausal women) and perhaps iron (no more than 18 milligrams) if you’re a woman with heavy menstrual flow.
- 50s: calcium (up to 1,200 milligrams for women and men) to protect against bone loss; and vitamin D (400 International
Units, or I.U.). Vitamin D recommendations go up with age.
Women: Stop any iron supplement now.
- 60s: calcium as noted for the 50s; vitamin D as noted for the 50s; and vitamin B12 (up to 2.4 micrograms) to counteract possible changes in vitamin B12 absorption.
- 70s: calcium as noted for the 50s; vitamin D (up to 600 I.U. or less if you drink milk); and vitamin B12, as noted for the 50s.
To be supplement savvy:
- Check the Supplement Facts on any you take so you don’t overdo. A supplement with 100% Daily Value for these or any other nutrients is enough, unless your doctor gives different advice.
- Make a personal note to ask your doctor about the right supplements for you.

Note: Supplements may interact with any medication that you take.