Ask the Expert: Seniors and Supplements


Cliff Keltner, a clinical pharmacist affiliated with Sharp, explains the benefits and complications of vitamins.

Why should I take a multivitamin?
Taking a daily multivitamin will help cover any nutrients that you might be lacking in your regular diet.

Can supplements and vitamins complement medical care?
Supplements and vitamins can complement your medical care. In combination with certain medications, the multivitamins or calcium supplements can help offset some certain conditions or treat certain conditions of osteoporosis or certain types of anemia. They can also aid in preventing vitamin deficiency and help support healthy immune function, and also help alleviate infections or from getting sick.

Are there certain supplements that are more important for seniors?
About a third of the elderly population find that they're deficient in certain vitamins or minerals, so often a physician may recommend a multivitamin be taken. Often in the elderly population diet habits sometimes slip, or you might not be able to get full meals that you used to be able to eat at a younger age. In addition, not getting as much sunlight or sun exposure, older patients may be deficient in vitamin D, which is also important to be supplemented as well. So, common supplements that the older population may need more than the younger population would be a daily multivitamin and also a calcium supplement with a combination of vitamin D to help offset some symptoms of osteoporosis.

Can supplements cause interactions with my medications?
Vitamins and supplements can sometimes complicate medical care because even though they're available over the counter, and they may seem harmless, there is still sometimes a potential side effect with certain over-the-counter products as well as interactions with some of your medications. So even before starting a multivitamin or over-the-counter supplement, you always want to double-check with your physician or your pharmacist to make sure that there are no possible interactions with current medications that you're taking.

For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's senior health services or to find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego doctors or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about senior health, read the Senior Health News archive.


About the Expert
Cliff Keltner is a clinical pharmacist affiliated with Sharp.