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Planning Retirement Online

Supplements Guide in later life


No. 1 Multivitamins - June 2003


  • Findings from the Food Standards Agency

  • Latest on recommended daily amounts

  • Multi-vitamins for 50 plus



Vitamin Pills - too much or not enough?

The press has recently gone overboard reporting on the dangers of taking high doses of vitamin pills. The FSA (Food Standards Agency) is suggesting we could all be poisoning ourselves by OD-ing on supplements. 

Vitamins A, C, E, B6, plus the minerals selenium, copper, zinc, calcium, chromium   are among the one’s that have been ‘named and shamed’ for having side effects ranging from stomach upsets to strokes.

Defenders of supplements (and that includes nutritionists as well as manufacturers) point to out of date or poor research, and, inevitably, scare-mongering.  

Even the FSA concludes that most people are unlikely to cause themselves any harm from the vitamins and minerals they are taking.

(Visit the FSA web site for full information

There’s a school of thought that maintains we should stick to a natural, balanced diet to get all the nutrients.  But there is evidence to suggest that we need a little help, especially as we age:

  • Soil depletion and modern processing or even storing of foods can strip foods of nutritional content. 

  • Older people are in danger of calcium depletion, leading to brittle bones (osteoporosis).  Calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc are some of the supplements that may help avoid this. 

  • With age, we may need more vitamins because our ability to absorb them may be impaired. 

  • Antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E and selenium provide a high level of antioxidant protection. They protect against the damaging effect of free radicals that are caused by stress, pollution, sun damage and ageing. Antioxidants may also help prevent major degenerative diseases.

  • B vitamins are required for energy production, immune health and nervous system function.  Taken as supplements, they may reduce chances of cardiovascular disease.

  • Lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, is thought to help prevent cancers, including prostate cancer.  

Selenium, supplies of which are depleted through soil erosion, may also help protect against prostate cancer.

 For this reason many nutritionists and doctors are recommending that you continue to take vitamin and mineral supplements. 

Multivitamins for 50 plus

At laterlife, we’ve been talking to Nutri Centre, the major suppliers of supplements in the UK (and now setting up ‘shops within the shop’ at some branches of Tesco).  We asked them to help select from their best selling multivitamins for the 50-plus age group.

Here’s what we were looking for:

  • Good absorption – some vitamins dissolve so quickly in the digestive system that they are excreted instead of being utilised by the body. 

  • A sensible balance providing the optimum nutritional needs.

  • Quality products with no additives

Vitamins and minerals are often measured in tiny amounts.  Some are measured in International Units (iu).   Most are given as Recommended Daily Amounts (RDA).  These RDA’s vary according to country.  The US, for instance, tends to recommend  higher amounts than the UK. Proposals in the FSA report and proposals to bring the UK in line with the EU look set to result in much lower RDAs in some cases.

In order to stay within safe daily intake, you do need to take into account any other supplements you use.  For instance, separate calcium supplements might take you over the safety limit. You can adjust for this by, for instance, reducing the number of calcium tablets.


Anyone on oral anticoagulants should be monitored and their anticoagulant dosage adjusted if necessary as vitamin E can interact inappropriately with the action of these drugs.  Discuss drug interaction with your doctor.


We recommend if you are taking any prescription drugs that you check compatability with your doctor or practice nurse for any drug interaction.

Check quantities of any vitamin supplements to ensure the amounts you are taking are safe for you. 


You can now buy supplements from Nutri Centre (the major suppliers of supplements in the UK) via laterlife with a special 10% discount for UK laterlife visitors. Simply click on the product title below for a specific product or click to browse the full range of Nutri Centre products.

Make sure you quote the coupon code LL010 (that's LL zero one zero) in order to receive your 10% discount.

Multivitamin and Mineral Supplements for the 50 plus


Solgar's VM Prime

Solgar’s VM-PRIME is a new multivitamin designed to provide suitable nutritional requirements for adults over 50.  Increased levels of vitamin B-12, Manganese, Zinc, Selenium, Chromium, Copper and Molybdenum are included.

Solgar products tend to be rather large pills, but the two-a-day dosage of VM-PRIME allows for a smaller tablet with excellent absorbing qualities. 

With no sugar, salt, preservatives or artificial colour, VM-PRIME is formulated in Solgar’s own laboratories.  The company has a good reputation, often winning awards for their products.

Higher Nature - Advanced Optimum Nutrition Formula

High potency multivitamin/mineral

This is the multi that leading international nutritionist and author, Patrick Holford, formulated for Higher Nature and which he takes himself. It offers minerals such as vanadium and molybdenum, not found in most multis, and optimum chemical forms of each ingredient - for example: many citrate minerals, for good absorption.

Suggested intake
2-3 tablets a day with meals.


This preparation is particularly suitable for the over 50s because of the broad spectrum of the ingredients, the relatively high antioxidant weighting and the convenience of a one a day tablet.  Although an invaluable stand alone product, Multi-Max can be taken with other calcium and magnesium supplements.

A darker yellow colouration of the urine is normal.  This is harmless and indicates the body is using the vitamin B2 effectively.

Quest Super One a Day

Super Once A Day Divided Dose is a high potency multivitamin formulation, with amino acid minerals which are chelated, a process that makes for better absorption. Ideal for those who eat small or irregular meals, have digestive problems or are unwell or convalescing. Super Once A Day Divided Dose is especially useful for those wanting a high potency formulation, but in tablets that are easy to swallow

Free from: Hydrogenated fat; artificial preservatives, colours or flavours; added starch, sucrose, lactose or salt; yeast, wheat or gluten; peanut derivatives.

Directions: One or two tablets daily with food

Nutricentre4.jpg (4081 bytes)


To purchase any item from Nutri Centre simply click on the product title above or on the links opposite.

Make sure you quote the coupon code LL010 (that's LL zero one zero) in order to receive your 10% discount).


Solgar's VM Prime

Higher Nature - Advanced Optimum Nutrition Formula


Quest Super One a Day

Browse the full range (make a note of the coupon code opposite to obtain your discount)


Other articles in this series

Edition 1 - Multivitamins

Edition 2 - Alternatives for allergies


Back to Health Section

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