Did you know that 70% of those age 65 and older take a multivitamin or mineral supplement? According to an article in Harvard Health Publishing, "Multivitamin supplementation is low risk and low cost, and it helps to fill potential gaps in the diet that people might have." Dr. Howard Sesso, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health emphasized that many nutritionists will agree that a supplement is alright if nutrient needs are not being met by a healthy food-based diet.
So, what does this mean for your aging loved one? Do all of the experts agree? Are vitamins only available in pill form?
In general, it is always important to consider your diet, exercise and overall lifestyle to determine what vitamins you may need. A consistent message is to make sure you live a healthy lifestyle and use supplements to fill any gaps you may have or if a doctor recommends a certain vitamin.
You can find vitamins in a variety of forms: pill, chewable, liquid and one of the more novel approaches, Vitamin Patches.
What is a Vitamin Patch?
Let’s start with the basics. A vitamin patch is considered a transdermal patch. A transdermal patch is an adhesive device that will deliver a specific dose of medication or other wellness product (i.e. vitamin) to the bloodstream directly through the skin.
The first medicinal transdermal patch was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1979 to treat motion sickness. Today, there are patches available for smoking cessation, birth control and treatments for dementia.
A transdermal vitamin patch delivers multivitamin or specific vitamins to you in a safe, convenient way to absorb the nutrients you need throughout the day. One of several differences from vitamin pills includes the direct flow of vitamins into your bloodstream instead of going through your digestive system.
Beneficial Vitamin Supplements for Adults
According to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine some examples of traditional vitamin supplements that may benefit your health include:
- Vitamin B12, which can help keep nerve and blood cells healthy and make DNA
- Folic acid, which can reduce birth defects when taken by pregnant women
- Vitamin D, which can strengthen bones
- Calcium, which can promote bone health
- Vitamins C and E, which can prevent cell damage
- Fish oil, which can support heart health
- Vitamin A, which can slow down vision loss from age-related macular degeneration
For older adults, some of the most common vitamins that need to be supplemented by a pill or patch include:
Calcium: Calcium works with vitamin D to keep bones strong.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.
Vitamin B6: This vitamin is needed to form red blood cells.
Vitamin B12: This helps keep your red blood cells and nerves healthy.
What Are The Benefits of Vitamin Patches for Seniors?
The vitamin patch, if the right choice for you, offers the following immediate benefits:
Convenience: Vitamin patches can be delivered right to your door and applied easily to help your body get the nutrients it needs. No need to worry about taking vitamins on a full or empty stomach.
Comfort: Vitamin patches help you or your loved one avoid taking the often large pill format that vitamins typically come in. This is especially helpful when caring for someone who has difficulty swallowing pills.
Durable and Reliable: The patch will stay on your skin until it is taken off (recommended 6-8 hours). Common application areas include the shoulder, upper arm and wrist, although any spot without a lot of hair works well. For those suffering from dementia, it may be helpful to place the patch somewhere that is difficult for them to reach to avoid early removal.
While it is on your skin it will slowly provide your body with a healthy, vitamin supplement.
Vitamin supplements have direct health benefits and patches can offer you unique benefits. When considering your aging parent, a vitamin patch is a convenient way to increase their Vitamin B12 (as doctors do recommend focusing on). You can help them apply the patch (or patches) each morning and not worry about finding ways to incorporate a pill into the regular activities of daily living.
The vitamin patch is not a quick fix and is not intended to treat, cure, or prevent illness. A long-term focus on your health and nutrition, as well a vitamin and mineral intake is always recommended. Vitamin patches are also a relatively new invention with a smaller body of evidence to support their efficacy. They may, however, represent a useful alternative in special situations where taking an oral supplement is difficult or impossible.
Explore the vitamin needs of your aging loved one. Talk over supplements and best options with your physician. Be comfortable knowing there are many options out there right now to get the essential vitamins you need.