The 6 Supplements That Can Cause Health Issues For Seniors

Maintaining health and well-being becomes a top priority as we age. Dietary supplements often seem convenient to address potential nutrient deficiencies or specific health issues. Despite the wide variety of supplements available, however, it can be challenging to choose the right one. Some products may interact poorly with existing medications, while others may not be appropriate for your unique health needs.

Let's take a closer look at six common supplements that people over 60 should approach with caution. It's essential to gain an understanding of potential risks and seek advice from a healthcare professional. Making informed decisions can help you develop a senior wellness regimen that includes the right supplements for your specific needs.

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1. Vitamin E

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that has been linked to a strong immune system and proper cell function. However, high dosages of vitamin E (more than 400 IU per day) could prove hazardous for anyone over the age of 60. According to studies, it may increase the risk of bleeding, particularly for people who already use blood thinners or aspirin. Also, large dosages of this supplement can interfere with cancer treatment or reduce the efficacy of chemotherapy. Before using high-dose vitamin E supplements, consult your doctor to determine your specific needs.

2. Magnesium


Magnesium is essential for muscle and neuron function, controlling blood sugar, and regulating blood pressure. While a modest magnesium deficit might develop with age, most seniors acquire enough from a well-balanced diet. However, several medications could lower magnesium levels. In these cases, a doctor may prescribe a specific type and dose of magnesium supplement. Unsupervised magnesium supplement usage might result in unexpected outcomes such as diarrhea, nausea, and muscular weakness. Before incorporating magnesium into your daily regimen, consult with a healthcare practitioner.

3. St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort is an herbal supplement often used to treat mild-to-moderate depression. Although it may offer some benefits for seniors, its effectiveness is inconsistent, and it can interact negatively with several medications commonly prescribed to them. These interactions can alter the effectiveness of the medication or lead to serious side effects. Additionally, St. John's Wort can increase sun sensitivity, a concern for older adults. If you're experiencing symptoms of depression, it's important to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis and to discuss safe and effective treatment options.

4. Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto is a natural supplement sold to men to improve prostate health. Studies have suggested that it may help manage the symptoms of an enlarged prostate; however, the evidence is inconclusive. Saw palmetto can also interfere with medications used to treat blood clotting or hormone-related issues. Seniors are more likely to be taking medications for these conditions, making Saw palmetto a possible source of complications. If you are having prostate issues, you should see a doctor to get a correct diagnosis and discuss safe and effective treatment choices.

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5. Beta-Carotene


Many orange and yellow fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. It has antioxidant properties and may be beneficial to eye health. However, high-dose beta-carotene supplements (more than 20 mg daily) can be harmful to seniors, especially smokers. Studies indicate that it may raise the risk of lung cancer in this population. Large dosages can also cause skin discoloration and impair the absorption of other important medications. The best way to obtain beta-carotene is through natural food sources, such as carrots, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe, and winter squash.

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6. Kava Kava

Kava Kava

Kava is an herb sometimes used to treat anxiety. While it may provide some temporary relief, the long-term consequences are unknown and potentially harmful. Kava can harm the liver, particularly when used in large amounts or over an extended period. Seniors are more prone to liver issues; therefore, kava is a dangerous option. It may also interfere with medications that affect the central nervous system, resulting in sleepiness or disorientation.

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