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Best and Worst Multivitamins for Seniors

Best and worst multivitamins for seniors

Photo credit: Rafael Roy


After writing my first article on multivitamins titled The Best and Worst Multivitamins and How to Design Your Own, I received requests for both an article on multivitamins for seniors and for prenatal vitamins. Neither of these are an easy feat because it is impossible to get everything you need in one pill. But I am also up to a challenge to help people simplify their search by knowing what to look for.

If you are interested in learning more details about multivitamins, I recommend reading my first article on multivitamins. Or if you just want to know the best and worst multivitamins for seniors, scroll right to the bottom. But for this article, I’m going to give you a roadmap for understanding what you need to know to prevent many of the disorders linked to aging, and how you can make informed decisions about your diet and supplementation.

The Baby Boomers

You may be surprised to learn that a senior citizen starts at age 60. I think the perception of this age has changed quite a bit in one generation, and 60 is starting to seem much younger. So in respect to my parents (who are 70 and 72) who hate the term “senior citizens,” I will refer to the group as the “older generations.”

The first year of the baby boomers turned 70 this year. Many of the people in this generation grew up with parents that smoked, drank too much, embraced margarine/vegetable oils, white bread, and sugar, and experienced a lot of cardiovascular disease. The baby boomers learned from their parent’s mistakes, for the most part. By simply dropping the smoking and margarine habit alone from the previous generation, they dropped the risk of cardiovascular disease considerably.

You hear a lot of negative statistics about the rates of disease as we age. The fact of the matter is that many of these diseases are not destined by fate or genetics, but actions. According to the CDC, heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis are the most common and costly and preventable of all health problems. What isn’t on this list is Alzheimer’s and dementia, which I believe can also be explained as a preventable.

Prescription Drugs Contributing to Cognitive Decline

According to the Harvard Center of Ethics, prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death, tied with a stroke. Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth-leading cause of death for those age 65 and older. I find it interesting that we focus a lot of attention of finding a cure to Alzheimer’s and dementia, yet very little attention is focused on the drugs that may be majorly contributing to cognitive decline in the first place.

In the book Drug Muggers and Supplement Your Prescription, you can look up what nutrients your drugs are depleting. In certain cases, your medications may be causing memory and other health disorders due to these depletions and toxicities.

  • According to WebMD, possible drugs that can cause memory loss include antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and pain medications given after surgery.
  • According to the CDC, the most frequently prescribed therapeutic classes include analgesics (pain killers), antihyperlipidemic agents (Statins) and antidepressants.

Interesting yes? Let’s not forget Statins which should also be on this memory list.

1. Anticholinergic drugs

These include nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, antidepressants, incontinence drugs and narcotic pain relievers. They block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, the one that requires choline.


Vagus nerve, choline, memory


One study from the British Medical Journal looked at the use of anticholinergic drugs (nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, antidepressants, incontinence drugs and narcotic pain relievers) and tested 372 people over 60 years old without dementia. A total of 9.2% of the subjects continually used anticholinergic drugs during the year before cognitive assessment. Compared with non-users, they had poorer performance on reaction time, attention, delayed non-verbal memory, narrative recall, visuospatial construction, and language tasks. Eighty percent of the continuous users were classified as having mild cognitive impairment.

A french study looking at 4,128 women and 2,784 men that reported taking anticholinergic drugs showed a greater decline over four years in verbal fluency scores and in global cognitive functioning than women not using anticholinergic drugs. In men, an association was found with a decline in visual memory and to a lesser extent in executive function. Significant interactions were observed in women between anticholinergic use and age, apolipoprotein E, or hormone replacement therapy. A significantly 1.4–2 fold higher risk of cognitive decline was observed for continuous anticholinergic users.

One study bred mice to have dementia and poor memories with low brain acetylcholine concentration. The administration of phosphatidylcholine to mice with dementia improved memory, showing the link to acetylcholine.

Approximately 90 percent of Americans do not get enough choline. Now imagine you are 65 or older, taking a PPI, sleep aid, and a Statin. That spells trouble.

2. Proton Pump Inhibitors

Deficiencies in vitamin B1 and B12 specifically can affect memory. How is this related to PPI’s? PPI’s block 99% of stomach acid, which is needed for B12 absorption. These drugs deplete B12 and calcium. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that German researchers looking at participants 75 years of age or older and free of dementia receiving regular PPI medication had a significantly increased risk of incident dementia compared with the patients not receiving PPI medication.

3. Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Lexomil, Ativan, Klonopin, Restoril)

Benzodiazepines are in the class of anti-anxiety, insomnia and seizure disorder medications and deplete biotin, folate, vitamin D and vitamin K. These are actually intended to only be used for a short time however some people may use them long term. In a study from the British Medical Journal, benzodiazepine use is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The stronger association observed for long-term exposures reinforces the suspicion of a possible direct association. According to researchers “unwarranted long-term use of these drugs should be considered as a public health concern.”

As of August 31st, 2016, the FDA sent out a press announcement issuing boxed warnings (the highest strongest warning) to combining prescription opioid analgesics, opioid-containing cough products and benzodiazepines due to the risk of death. According to the FDA Commissioner Robert Califf M.D., “It is nothing short of a public health crisis when you see a substantial increase of avoidable overdose and death related to two widely used drug classes being taken together.”

4. Statin Drugs

Crestor is the second highest prescribed drug at 21.4 million per month. As men and women age, cholesterol naturally goes up. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Your digestive system requires cholesterol to prevent infection, your hormones requires cholesterol as starting material, and your memory requires cholesterol to function. The reduction of cholesterol and increase of blood sugar by Statin drugs is most likely the reason the memory is affected, as reported by the FDA.

We know that with diabetes, the cells become resistant to insulin causing the pancreas to increase the amount of insulin released. What people may not know, is that in Alzheimers the part of the brain that is responsible for memory and personality also becomes resistant to insulin. Insulin is made in the brain in a similar way that it is made in the pancreas. In fact, insulin is responsible for helping build neurotransmitters and the tasks involved with learning and memory. Some researchers are now referring to Alzheimer’s disease as “type 3 diabetes.” Diabetics actually have up to a 65% higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found a nearly 50 percent increase in diabetes among longtime statin users. A 2011 analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association and a 2010 analysis in The Lancet also found a higher risk of diabetes among those taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. According to the American Heart Association, adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults without diabetes.

So essentially the impression is that cholesterol is a bigger risk factor than diabetes for heart disease, which is wrong.

Addressing the Nutritional Needs of the Older Generations

Hippocrates once said, “all diseases begin in the gut.” According to the Journal of Clinical Nutrition “elderly persons who malabsorb macronutrients do so because of disease, not because of age.”

The malabsorption of micronutrients like B12 in the elderly is actually due to the high prevalence of atrophic gastritis, related to H. Pylori and low stomach acid. How many older people are on acid blockers for acid reflux! Acid reflux occurs from low stomach acid, not too much. Chronic gut inflammation is also due to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Aspirin, Tylenol etc.) accounting for the large majority of peptic ulcer disease. Nutrients whose absorption have been shown to be affected by low acid conditions in the stomach include folate, vitamin B-12, calcium, iron, and beta-carotene.

It has been shown that elderly persons (excuse me, older generation) with atrophic gastritis severely malabsorb folate, and can be corrected by administering folate along with hydrochloric acid. B12 supplementation is also superior for absorption over food for those with low stomach acid. B12 deficiency is even more pronounced in those with digestive disorders, gene variants in FUT2 and GIF, or those taking medications like proton pump inhibitors and Metformin.

Decreased skin synthesis of vitamin D, vitamin D absorption, vitamin D receptors in the intestinal epithelial cell and conversion to the active form of vitamin D have all been observed in the elderly. Vitamin A absorption actually increases, lowering the requirement for vitamin A. This could explain the osteoporosis study I explored here and why high vitamin A intake was correlated to osteoporosis.

The older generation have an increased vitamin B-6 requirement compared with younger people. A study done in 1990 found that in the United States that of 11,658 people, 91% of women and 71% percent of men were deficient in vitamin B-6 using the RDA, and 1 in 10 of the elderly in the US and Europe have been defined as deficient.

CoQ10 is the antioxidant energy molecule of the mitochondria, protects cell membranes and the oxidation of LDL. Production has been found to peak at age 20 and decrease as we age. Low CoQ10 causes low energy and accelerated aging. Statin drugs inhibit CoQ10 production. However, the production of CoQ10 can be encouraged. It can be boosted with exercise and vitamin B1, 2, 3, 4 5, 6, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin C, manganese, and magnesium.

Approximately 2/3’s of Alzheimer’s patients are women. Estrogen levels drop in post-menopausal women, affecting memory and choline production. Only 15% of women get enough choline. Choline plays a major role in memory. If you are female, eat your eggs daily, include many phytoestrogen-rich foods like flax seeds in your diet, and think twice about anticholinergic drugs.

The Worst Multivitamins for Seniors

1. Centrum Silver

The #1 Doctor recommended multivitamin makes my #1 for the worst multivitamin. Made by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, it brings in close to 1 billion in sales. Centrum uses synthetic vitamin E (dl-alpha-tocopherol) and potentially synthetic beta-carotene (source not listed). Synthetic versions of beta-carotene have been shown to increase the risk of cancer in heavy smokers and drinkers, and accelerated the death and shortened the life span of rats exposed to radiation. But the natural form of beta-carotene decreased the death rate and significantly increased the life span of exposed rats.

Synthetic vitamin E has been shown to have little or no anticancer effectiveness, and may even increase prostate cancer. Centrum uses the oxide form of magnesium, which only 4% is absorbed. The poor form of B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), folate (folic acid) and B12 (cyanocobalamin) are also used. Folic acid appears to be potentially problematic as I explained here. The formula is missing K2 (important for heart and bone health) and boron (important for testosterone for men and bone density for women).

Centrum contains hydrogenated palm oil, a trans-fat highly correlated to heart disease, not to mention bushels of corn additives and all the horrible artificial colors including FD#C Blue #2, Yellow #6 and Red #40 found to disrupt mitochondrial function (the power house of a cell that is important for keeping you young).

A study published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology found that the dyes actually enter the bloodstream through the skin or digestive system, debunking previous expertise that the skin blocked it and the digestive system destroyed it first. This is alarming because these dyes have already been linked to ADHD, allergies, and asthma, but due to the dye’s ability to inhibit cellular respiration, a whole cascade of health effects.

2. Men’s One a Day and Women’s One a Day 50+

In another popular choice, you will find a similar formula. This one contains artificial flavor, potentially synthetic beta-carotene, magnesium oxide, cupric oxide (found to exhibit high toxicity in vitro), synthetic vitamin E, yellow dye #5, FD&C yellow 36 lake, soybean oil and zinc oxide. The poor form of B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), folate (folic acid) and B12 (cyanocobalamin) are also used.

The women’s formula contains 500mg of calcium carbonate and only 50mg of magnesium oxide. This is from the erroneous notion that higher calcium automatically means better bone density. Poor bone density in females is not due to low calcium intake only; it is due to estrogen levels that are too low, coupled with low vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, boron, inositol, vitamin C, silicone and K2 deficiencies. Like B12, Vitamin D synthesis goes down as we age. Along with the wrong calcium/magnesium ratio, this formula does not contain boron, inositol or K2.

3. Kirkland Adults 50+ Mature Multi 3. Kirkland Adults 50+ Mature Multi

I always overheard my mom use the phrase, “don’t buy a discount parachute.” This applies to your vitamin choices. Kirkland’s multivitamin for seniors sells for $9.99. at Costco. I’m all for trying to find deals and not overspend, but this has to throw up a red flag. You have to imagine how cheap a product has to be made to retail for $9.99. Further inspection shows similar shortcuts as Centrum. Magnesium oxide, synthetic vitamin E as dl-alpha tocopheryl acetate, zinc oxide, folic acid and cyanocobalamin. This formula contains 222mg of calcium to 50mg of magnesium oxide (only 4% absorption rate), which is the wrong ratio. Magnesium should be in a 1:1 to 2:1 ratio, being the same or higher than calcium. Kirkland does make a point to show that they do not use food dyes.

The Best Multivitamins for Seniors

I don’t want to admit how many hours I spent analyzing multivitamins to find a product that would fit at least most of the guidelines, but let’s just say that this was my hardest task. After extensive research, it turns out that my previous recommendation for the best general multivitamin still holds true for the older generations. I have added two additional multivitamins based on the need for formulas without beta-carotene or vitamin K.

The Basic Nutrients 2/Day still provides the best bang for your buck, while providing the optimal levels of each nutrient with only 2 capsules per day. What you decide to add to this base will depend on where you need to focus. For the older generations, this includes mainly digestive health, cognitive function, bone health, eye health and heart health.  Below I have outlined how to customize your program.

1. Basic Nutrients 2/Day by Thorne Research

Cost: $27.99 for 60 capsules

Contains the right form of B12, B6 and folate for everyone including MTHFR variants
Contains 15mg of highly absorbable zinc bisglycinate chelate
Contains the right doses of manganese, copper and boron
Uses the correct dosage of vitamin E in the mixed tocopherol form, not dl-alpha tocopherol or isolated alpha-tocopherol
Uses natural mixed carotenes (including beta-carotene) from the marigold flower
Uses K2 instead of just K1
Contains selenium as selenomethionine, not selenate and selenite
Contains iodine
Contains a higher dose of vitamin C (750mg) from L-ascorbate
Contains 2,000IU of vitamin D instead of 800IU or less
It requires 2 capsules instead of the 6-8 capsules often required of higher quality multivitamins
It is affordable. A higher cost doesn’t always mean higher quality, and I try to seek these out for people.
It does not contain any harmful fillers or food dyes. I have also found some clients to be sensitive to citrate forms, and this formula does not contain any.
They are conducting double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials.
Certified by GMP, TGA from the Government of Australia (Australia’s FDA), as well as by the prestigious NSF International for quality control, purity and manufacturing.

2. O.N.E Multivitamin

Cost: $33.00 for 60 capsules

If you need to avoid vitamin K due to blood thinners, this is a good choice.

Does not contain vitamin K for those on blood thinners
Beta carotene is from D. Salina
Contains lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin for eye support
Contains a higher amount of zinc for eye support (25mg)
Contains CoQ10 for mitochondrial support
Contains alpha lipoic acid for cell membrane support
Contains small amounts of choline and inositol
Methylated forms of B12 and folate
Contains 2,000IU vitamin D

How this could be improved: It needs the P-5-P form of B6 and full spectrum vitamin E. Otherwise, it is a great choice for those on blood thinners or needing eye support.

3. MegaFood Multi for Men 55+ (No Vitamin K ) and MegaFood Multi for Women 55+ (No Vitamin K)


Cost: $24.91 for 60 capsules (2 a day)

As of June 2016, MegaFood has created a new formula to include methylfolate, methylcobalamin, and active B6 P-5-P. This formula is a blend of organic whole foods, USP vitamin and mineral-fed yeast and synthesized nutrients. I have chosen to add this as a lower potency multivitamin alternative that represents a blend of all the current processing technology. Be aware that yeast-bound vitamins and minerals still remain untested for absorption and people with yeast sensitivities may not do well with this formula.

Contains 200mg of choline
Uses methylfolate, methylcobalamin and B6 in the active form P-5-P
Does not contain vitamin A and only uses beta-carotene from carrots which could be beneficial for certain older populations with bone density issues
Contains 1,000IU of vitamin D3
Contains 15mg of zinc
Does not contain vitamin K, important for those on blood thinners
MegaFoods is GMP registered with NSF, soy free, dairy free, gluten free, pesticide and herbicide free and GMO-free.

For those with low stomach acid or gastritis and may have trouble absorbing B12, you may require sublingual B12 in addition to this supplement due to the low B12 content.

The folate level is also 200mcg, which made need to be higher based on your MTHFR enzyme function.

If you are a female concerned about bone health, make sure to be getting sufficient boron, K2, calcium and magnesium outside of this formula.

4. Integrative Therapeutics ProThrivers without Beta Carotene Two a Day

Cost: $45.00 for 60 capsules

If you have been instructed to avoid beta carotene, alpha tocopherol, copper or boron by your doctor, this is the only formula I know of that also uses methylated B-vitamins. You should be aware that this formula does not contain any calcium or magnesium, you may require more folate, iodine, and zinc and the B6 dose is larger than normal.

Does not contain beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, copper or boron
Methylated folate, B12 and the right form of B6
500mg of vitamin C
100mcg of vitamin K2
1,000IU of vitamin D
25 mg of tocotrienols
7mg of zinc
Betaine HCL (good for those with low stomach acid)

Relevant Research for these Formulas

In a randomized controlled study on elderly subjects with increased dementia risk, researchers showed that high-dose B-vitamin treatment (folate 0.8 mg, vitamin B6 20 mg, vitamin B12 0.5 mg) slowed shrinkage of the whole brain volume over 2 years. B- vitamins lower homocysteine, which directly leads to a decrease in gray matter atrophy, thereby slowing cognitive decline.

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States and Europe in people over fifty-five years old. The Rotterdam Study performed in the Netherlands suggests that atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) may be involved in the etiology of age-related macular degeneration. One study followed 3,600 people ages 55-80 years old for six years and found that those that took antioxidants plus zinc were less likely than those who took only antioxidants or only zinc to lose their vision. Lutein and zeaxanthin are crucial to eye health.

As we age, melatonin production decreases rapidly, getting to its low point around 70. In the United States, only about one-third of the population (37%) reported getting 8 hours of sleep per night, and 31% reported 6 hours or less. Sleep deprivation increases the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland as it gets dark and makes you sleepy. The following can lead to low melatonin levels: SAD, Bi-Polar, breast cancer, prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, low blood flow, Caffeine, alcohol, chronic stress, nicotine, beta-blockers, certain anti-depressants, sleeping pills and tranquilizers deplete melatonin.

To optimize melatonin production nutritionally, you need to look at the dopamine/adrenaline pathway (vitamin C and magnesium), the serotonin and melatonin pathway (B2, folate, B6 and B12), and glutamate/GABA pathway (probiotics, vitamin C, zinc, B6, magnesium, choline) to see where biochemical issues may need to be addressed. Then you have to look at stress, lifestyle, environment, medications, brain injuries and diet.

Additional Supplementation

1. Magnesium L-Threonate or Magnesium Citrate or Magnesium Glycinate or Calcium/Magnesium Citramate 1:1 Ratio

Magnesium required for the removal of DNA damage generated by environmental toxins, endogenous processes, and DNA replication. Deficiency increases the susceptibility to oxidative stress, cardiovascular heart diseases as well as accelerated aging. Approximately 40-60% of sudden deaths from heart attacks occur in the complete absence of any prior artery blockage, clot formation or heart rhythm abnormalities. They are most likely occurring from spasms in the arteries with magnesium being a natural antispasmodic.

The US government study often cited shows 68% of Americans are deficient in magnesium based on dietary intake (which is high to begin with) is incredibly inaccurate based on the percentage of those with the numerous habits that deplete magnesium like medications, excess coffee, sugar, flour based food and excess alcohol. Magnesium deficiency induces heart arrhythmias, impairs glucose homeostasis, and alters cholesterol and oxidative metabolism in post-menopausal women. One study found that centenarians (those living over 100) have a higher total body magnesium and lower calcium levels than most elderly people.

Researchers from MIT formulated this type of magnesium to concentrate more in the brain, increasing neurotransmitter sites, synapse density and brain cell signaling. Magnesium L-Threonate has been shown in rat studies to enhance learning abilities, working memory, and short and long-term memory by 15% for short-term memory and 54% for long-term memory compared to magnesium citrate. It improved in both young and old, with the older rats getting the most benefit. Magnesium has been found to have a positive impact on both neural plasticity and synaptic density, and this formula has the potential for those with Alzheimers, dementia or those simply wanting to improve memory.

Magnesium Citrate is the best form for constipation. Glycinate is the best form for sleep and higher doses.  If acid reflux is an issue, you need to build bone health or digestion is suboptimal, use the calcium/magnesium product. Read more about magnesium in my article here.

2. BioKult or Probiota 12


Studies in older adults demonstrate that the gut microbiota correlates with diet, location of residence and level of inflammation. The decline of Bifidobacteria with age may contribute to aging-associated disease.

The FUT2 gene controls prebiotic production, B12 absorption and how much bifidobacteria you carry in your digestive tract. Bifidus also produces intestinal folate. Certain variants in FUT2 as found through Nutrition Genome can help determine your ability to absorb B12 and bifidobacteria colonization. The gut/brain axis is an extremely important concept for mental health, and diversified gut flora is going to help produce GABA, lowering the destructive effects of excess glutamate on the brain seen here and assisting sleep.

Constipation is one of the most frequent gastrointestinal disorders encountered in clinical practice in Western societies. Its prevalence increases with age and is more frequently reported in female patients. What many people don’t realize, is that it is often from a deficiency in magnesium, vitamin C, fiber and probiotics.

3. Nordic Naturals DHA, Brain and Nervous System Support or Wiley’s Finest Minis


Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have been called “type 3 diabetes” due to the role of high blood sugar and brain deterioration. However, there are other factors including hormone function and nutrient deficiencies in the glutamate/GABA pathway.

In many ways, DHA is a miracle nutrient for the human body. DHA protects the brain from elevated blood sugar and lowers the risk of diabetes, lowers triglycerides, helps prevents cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, reduces sudden death from heart attack by 50% with 200mg, prevents cardiac arrhythmias and lowers depression, lowers blood pressure, prevents tumor formation and arthritis.

Eating fish one to three times a week has been associated with a 40 to 75 percent reduction in macular degeneration. A study concluded that elder people with poor diets, especially with low antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, are more prone to developing macular degeneration and benefit from supplementation. “Micronutrient supplementation enhances antioxidant defense and healthy eyes and might prevent/retard/modify macular degeneration” with the use of omega-3 fatty acids, lutein/zeaxanthin, vitamins C, E, and zinc/copper.

*The Wiley’s Finest was chosen for its high quality and small capsules for those who have trouble swallowing or need to reduce the risk of choking on a capsule.

4. Ashwagandha Root Extract

Ashwagandha is also known as Indian Ginseng and has been one of my adaptogen recommendations for athletes due to its research on performance, muscle size and muscle strength. An adaptogen is a natural substance that increases the body’s resistance to physical (heat, cold and exertion), chemical (toxins and heavy metals) and biological (bacteria and viruses) stressor. Ashwagandha has another phenomenal characteristic beyond athletic performance. It is neuroprotective and improves memory.

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by progressive dysfunction of memory and higher cognitive functions with abnormal accumulation of extracellular amyloid plaques and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles throughout cortical and limbic brain regions. Researchers have demonstrated that when ashwagandha was added to β-amyloid treated samples, the toxic effects were neutralized and ashwagandha root extract was neuroprotective against β-amyloid induced neuropathogenesis.

5. Lion’s Mane Powder by Real Mushrooms or Lion’s Mane Capsules


Compounds in Lion’s Mane are able to stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), which promotes the repair and regeneration of neurons. There is growing clinical evidence that Lion’s Mane in beneficial in mild forms of dementia. In a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, 50-80-year old Japanese men and women with mild cognitive impairment given 3g/day showed significant increases on a cognitive function scale compared with a placebo group over a 16 week period.

One study took 7 patients with different types of dementia were given 5g a day of Lion’s Mane in soup. Six months all seven demonstrated improvement in their Functional Independence Measure score (eating, dressing, walking etc.), while six out of seven demonstrated improvements in their perceptual capacities (understanding, communication, memory, etc). A different study found that neuronal excitability from glutamic acid (one of the causes of Alzheimer’s and dementia) appears to be attenuated in the presence of Lion’s Mane.

Anxiety and depression was reduced in a human study with a dosage of 2 grams per day after 4 weeks, with a significant difference between groups on the measurements of concentration and irritability.

The other fascinating characteristic of Lion’s Mane is the gastro-protective effect on the digestive system. This is a major secondary benefit since gastritis is one of the main reasons the older generations start to decline in health. Lion’s Mane has been found to promote ulcer protection and significant protection activity against gastric mucosal injury by preventing the depletion of antioxidant enzymes. Treatment with a hot water extract of Lion’s Mane decreased lipid peroxidation and increased superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) activities, quenching free radicals in the gastric tissue of the ethanol-induced rats to exhibit gastroprotective activity.

Further Reading

For understanding more about mental health including anxiety and depression, read the article Mental Health Starts in the Gut, Not the Brain.

For heart health, check out How to Read Your Cardiovascular Blood Work in 5 Steps. This will also tell you how to adjust your diet and supplement program based on your results.

To read more about bone health, see the article How Much Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D Should You Take?

22 Responses to Best and Worst Multivitamins for Seniors

  • Hello, what do u think of perque life guard? That is the one I am currently taking. I was thinking of trying pure encapsulation nutrients 950 with vitamin k. Thank you!

    • Hi Sandra,

      Perque Life Guard is very high quality. The only reason I didn’t add it is because the dosages are pretty high, magnesium aspartate isn’t an ideal form, and it is expensive. However if you keep it at the 1-2 tablet dose, it is a reasonable price. Some people may not do well with the very high B6 dosage and it is missing K2. I also reviewed Pure Encapsulations Nutrients 950 with vitamin K and didn’t add it because it requires 6 capsules, contains only 1,000IU of vitamin D and is missing the mixed tocopherols for vitamin E. It does contain 200mg of calcium and magnesium, which is good but still not enough to meet those requirements.

  • Hello, Many thanks for the article, superuseful, especially that I was researching how to support my parents health! Although they are very against supplementation (unfortunately) so I will need to force them to take at least the bare minimum! I noticed that Basic Nutrients II by Thorne Research seems to be discontinued (at least on iherb, couldnt find it anywhere else), unless I got it wrong somehow?. If it’s indeed not available anymore I would get:

    1. Life Extension, Two-Per-Day Tablets,

    2. Life Extension, Super K With Advanced K2 Complex

    3. Life Extension, Neuro-Mag, Magnesium L-Threonate – although I’m not sure about this one. 3 capsules provide on 36% of daily value. Also my parents start to have issues with memory, but also can’t sleep well and often constipated, often stressed with no reason. Which of the magnesium forms would be the optimal one for all of those issues?


    Thorne Research, Calcium-Magnesium Citramate, – I noticed Life Extension, Two-Per-Day formula doesnt really have Calcium so I thought maybe two tablets of this combo would do the trick? Still a bit low of both nutrients though but maybe as a support it would do (my parents dont take any supplements now)

    I would be very grateful for your advice!
    Many thanks!

    • Hi Ewa,

      This article had people like you in mind looking after their parents. I’ve been able to help my dad dramatically with supplementation and diet and almost used him as a case study in this article, but didn’t want to make the article too long.

      I can’t speak for iHerb, but the link I have on the article is to Amazon where you can purchase it. We also carry this in one of my nutrition practices, so I know it isn’t discontinued.

      In terms of memory, it is best to figure out why their memory is affected as I have outlined. Often B12 will make a big difference, especially because they don’t supplement at all.

      Constipation can be remedied with magnesium citrate, probiotics and dietary fiber. Magnesium citrate will make them a believer in supplementation since they will see a direct result. Stress, poor sleep and appearing stressed does show a potential magnesium issue.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Hey Alex, I forgot to ask u in my earlier post if u think the manganese is too high in the perque life guard. I was thinking of switching to the perque life guard mini if u do think it is to high. Do u know if the beta carotene in there is natural of synthetic? Thanks

    • Hey Sandra,

      Wow, yes it is absolutely too high with a 2 capsule dose. The beta carotene is not synthetic and is from d. salina.

  • Hi Alex; My mother is 91 and has always been very strong and healthy with no issues except an episode about 3 years ago of what the doctors called mini strokes because the cat scan and ultra sound found nothing to speak of. She taught Tai Chi, lived alone, chopped wood, drove a car. The first part of this year though brought a very stressful and abrupt move from her home that has just ended and left her *very* exhausted, depressed and grieving though she hides it well, weakness in her legs, a bruised feeling in her hips and constipation for the first time in her life. Her memory and mental faculties have suffered. She eats fairly well, veges, not much protein though, she’s a pescatarian and eats dairy. She will go to a Chinese medicine doctor but not a traditional doctor. I have appreciated this article very much and have ordered several things from it including the Magnesium. I’m wondering what else you think might be good. Bee Pollen? I’ll be buying her stout as well due to your article. Thanks for any help.

    • Hi Rachel,

      Thinking of your 91 year old mom teaching Tai Chi and chopping wood really made me smile. She sounds like a great woman, and I’m very sorry to hear that her life made such a dramatic shift. I think magnesium sounds like an important addition for stress and digestion. You may want to see if her Chinese doctor is open to her using Lion’s Mane. Mainly it is making sure she has an appetite, is sleeping and prevents constipation. Daily homemade soups are also excellent remedies for stress and digestion. It sounds like a difficult situation and I hope she feels better.

  • Alex, thanks very much for the reply. Ya, Ma is pretty amazing. I did order the Lion’s Mane. She doesn’t have a TCM dr. at the moment as she is in a new area. I have already the 2/day multi’s by Thorne and was glad to see you recommend them. I also got the fish oil, ashwaganda and probiotics. I guess i got everything. I’m thinking Bee Pollen wouldn’t hurt as well since it’s a food, but, let me know if you have reservations. I’m finding the topics you write about so interesting and relevant. Thank you.

    • Hi Rachel,

      Bee Pollen should be fine. It is best to buy it locally for the best benefits. I appreciate the feedback. Hoping to have some new articles coming up soon.

  • I would love to know which prenatal(also for lactation) you recommend? Thanks.

  • Hi Alex, I may have an idea for a new article, if you find the topic interesting as well. A person that I know suffers from terminal lung cancer. He only has a couple of months to live, doctors encouraged him to start chemo to make the process less painful and prolong his life a little. The problem is that chemotherapy has quite some nasty side effects. I would very much appreciate an article about supplements that could potentially decrease chemo side effects and make those last months more bearable.


    • Hi Ewa,

      I’m very sorry to hear about your friend. Great idea and I would be happy to do it. I actually have a lot of experience with this from my family nutrition practice, Swanson Health Center. We have helped many clients through chemotherapy with nutritional and supplemental support, and it can make a huge difference.

    • Hi Ewa,

      I wanted to let you know that I completed the article:

      I will send it by email soon, but wanted to let you know early.

  • Unfortunately I have been taking Centrum Silver for a number of years (recommended by my doctor when I turned 50) but fortunately for me I found your website which is so impressive and informative and I will take your recommendation for Thorne Basic Nutrients 2. If I may ask a couple questions. I would like to know if you have any recommendations on Curcumin supplements. I am looking for one that is organic, grown and made in the USA. And I worry about heavy metals. And I also would like to ask you about protein powder. I am currently using whey protein, which is almost finished. And I would like to switch to an organic plant-based protein powder. However, I am having trouble deciding on what kind (pea, hemp, etc.). I am not a weight lifter or very active in sports. I do walk on the treadmill everyday and do yoga. I drink protein smoothies on days when my diet doesn’t contain enough protein. Thanks so much for your time.

    • Hi Cathy,

      I’m happy to hear that you found the article informative. Curcumin is best absorbed with black pepper and an oil carrier. Gaia Herbs makes a product called Turmeric Supreme Extra Strength that contains black pepper, is grown in North Carolina and is organic.

      Women benefit from more fiber, which makes hemp and chia good candidates, while pea or sprouted rice is typically higher in protein. The tricky thing with plant-based protein powders is taste and if it is easy to digest. One that stands out to me is Plant Based Protein by PureFood that also contains probiotics. A little more expensive, but appears to be what you are looking for. I have an article in the works for the best and worst plant-based protein powders.

  • Alex, thanks for your suggestions. I will be watching out for your protein powders article.

  • Have been reading your “How to Make Your Own Multivitamin with Diet” – fantastic information – and while that’s obviously a preference appreciated finding your analysis of available multi-vitamins for “seniors” (Yuk!).
    Have one question – a few years ago found all these convincing articles on vitamin D and started consuming it liberally; only to eventually find that living just 12 degrees below the equator, we can usually manufacture sufficient Vitamin D in a brief walk to the shops – so my question pertains to Thorne Research ‘s Basic Nutrients 2/Day where you noted it “Contains 2,000IU of vitamin D instead of 800IU or less” – do you have any concerns re Vitamin D toxicity for people living near the equator regarding long term daily consumption of Thorne Research ‘s Basic Nutrients 2/Day ?
    From briefly looking up Vitamin D toxicity levels, this seems most likely a silly question, but I’d be interested in your opinion – thanks

    • Hi PB,

      No, I don’t have any concerns about 2,000IU daily of vitamin D for toxicity. I have observed clinically that 2,000IU is the amount that helps maintain vitamin D in the healthy range, while 5,000 or more is often needed to push vitamin D levels out of a deficient range. Once the target range is acquired, vitamin D can go back down to 2,000IU. If you get plenty of sun, you may not need it at all. A deeper understanding is gained through genetic testing. When there are polymorphisms in the VDR receptor for example, then co-factors (calcium, magnesium, zinc, boron, vitamin A) play a more important role in getting vitamin D into the cell. This is why I prefer it with these co-factors vs. isolated vitamin D. I recommend monitoring your vitamin D through blood tests so you can get a better idea of your range (end of winter and summer is best).

  • Magnesium supplements are really helpful especially women as they age. I myself take these supplements. Thanks for the insightful article.

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