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How Essential are Dietary Supplements?

by Dr. Ruth Heidrich, Senior Fitness Expert
March 16, 2018

Question: I am a fit 75 year old man with no illnesses who exercises regularly. Do I need to take dietary supplements?

Answer: In general, I would say "no" as long as you are eating a diet high in leafy greens, whole fruits and lots of veggies. The most commonly taken supplements are for protein, iron and calcium but you get plenty of protein from veggies and your iron and calcium from leafy greens. (In fact, if you eat too much protein, it takes calcium from your bones to neutralize the amino acids that make up protein.) If you are strict vegetarian or vegan, then you probably need to take B-12 but plant foods provide the vitamins, minerals, protein, good carbohydrates, and healthy fats that your body needs. You also need to get frequent sun exposure to make sure you're making Vitamin D.  Periodic blood tests will let you know if you are low in any of these elements.  For greater details, see my book, Senior Fitness, which may even be available in your library or can be ordered through my website,

A world-champion Ironman triathlete, Dr. Ruth Heidrich, with a Ph.D. in Health Management and being a Certified Fitness Trainer, has been a staunch educator in promoting a healthy lifestyle. She's a winner of over 900 trophies in races such as 6 Ironman triathlons, 67 marathons, bicycling & swimming including 8 gold medals in the Senior Olympics, all this after her diagnosis of Stage 4 breast cancer. More information is available at

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