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Over 40? Why you should consider vitamins

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By Jackson Holtz, Herald Writer
Mehmet Oz, Dr. Oz to most, has told millions of viewers that people over 40 should take four vitamin supplements.
The television doctor says it's a good idea to add a multivitamin, vitamin D, calcium and magnesium and fish oils to a daily diet.
We decided to put Dr. Oz's recommendations to the test.
Dr. Eric Jones is a clinical professor at Bastyr University, the Bothell naturopathic medical school.
He's been seeing patients for nearly three decades and frequently works with seniors.
"My rule of thumb with seniors is always start with basic nutritional status and exercise and activity," Jones said.
That's a philosophy shared at Shaklee, a company that helped pioneer the development of vitamin supplements.
"We still preach and promote a healthy balance," Les Wong, a company spokesman, said.
One way to find a baseline is to check a guide created by researchers at Tufts University, near Boston, Jones said.
The Food Pyramid for Older Adults starts with a foundation of exercise, adds fluids to ensure proper hydration, and then splits food into five basic categories: grains, vegetables and fruit, fats, dairy and proteins.
"I like patients to get as much as possible through diet," Jones said.
But today's American diet is full of empty calories and loaded with sugars.
Older adults often live on restricted budgets. Better food -- fresh and organic -- often costs more than calorie-rich but nutrition-poor alternatives.
Poor diets can lead to a variety of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Social isolation and limited mobility, often a problem for seniors, tend to take a toll on nutrition as well, experts say.
Then there are the problems that come with old age.
Each candle added to the birthday cake results in some unavoidable setbacks.
Aging makes it harder to absorb and retain necessary nutrients, such as vitamin B12.
Bone density decreases with age, making vitamin D and calcium especially important.
All these are reasons adding nutritional supplements may be a good idea.
Jones, like Dr. Oz, suggests a multivitamin, calcium and magnesium supplements, zinc and vitamin D.
At Shaklee, omega fatty acids and probiotics also are recommended for older adults.
"Our gut micro-flora has gone bad with all the junk food and the poor diet and the stress and the drugs and all this sort of stuff," Wang said.
Adding probiotics, micro-organisms often found in yogurt and some fermented foods, may help the digestive system function better.
Once people have decided which supplements to take, choosing a brand can be tricky.
Quality is hard to predict based on the label alone. It's best to choose a brand with a proven track record, Wang said.
The most important factor in staying healthy still starts with an active lifestyle and a healthy diet.
"The term, 'supplement,' that's exactly what it's supposed to be," Jones said. "It's important to look at the whole picture."
Story tags » HealthHealth treatment

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