Caregiver's Home Companion Caring for someone who has trouble hearing the phone?
 SEARCH Go
Read Fred's Previous Articles

April 6, 2012
Question for Aging Men: Will Testosterone Spark Virility?


March 30, 2012
Is Dad Still Road-Worthy – Or Is It Time to Take the Keys?


March 23, 2012
Coping and Recovering from Knee Replacement


March 16, 2012
Lactose Intolerance May Not Spell Osteoporosis


Take Our PollThe Caregiver's Marketplace

Shop Now in the
Caregiver's e-Mall

Our Caregiver's e-Mall is filling up with great stores and a growing number of items just in time for the holidays. Whether you browse and find a book or tape to help you with caregiving, or come across a wonderful gift for a friend or family member, the e-Mall can be your source for easy shopping and gift-giving.

So, click on the dark blue Caregiver's e-Mall buttons throughout our site and enter a comfortable, secure shopping experience with major merchants while avoiding the hassle of having to find a parking place or matching your shopping hours with someone else's. Our mall is just a click away and is open 24 hours every day.

Watch for additional stores opening in the e-Mall soon!

Posted: July 24, 2009

Keeping Seniors Healthy

Caffeine and Vitamins Not Always a Good Mix

Q. Does coffee kill the benefits of vitamins? I ask because of all the coffee my mom drinks all day long.

A. Any beverage or food containing caffeine such as coffee, tea, chocolate and some sodas can inhibit the absorption of vitamins and minerals and increase their excretion from the body.

This raises a more important question: What are the benefits of vitamins?

It’s very important to talk with your doctor before you take any vitamin and mineral pills, especially if you take prescription medicines, have any health problems – or, as in your mom’s case, are elderly. Taking too much of a vitamin or mineral can cause problems with some medical tests or interfere with drugs you’re taking.

Vitamins and minerals are “micronutrients” your body needs in small but steady amounts. Your body can't make most micronutrients, so you must get them elsewhere.

Vitamins are natural substances found in plants and animals. There are two types of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble.

Water-soluble vitamins are easily absorbed by your body. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, they don’t have to be absorbed using bile acids (fluids used to digest fats). Your body doesn’t store large amounts of water-soluble vitamins. The water-soluble vitamins you don’t need are removed by your kidneys and come out in your urine.

Your body has to use bile acids to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Once these vitamins are absorbed, your body stores them in body fat. When you need them, your body takes them out of storage to be used.

Here are some water-soluble vitamins: Vitamin C, biotin and the seven B vitamins -- thiamin (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), pantothenic acid (B-5), pyridoxine (B-6), folic acid (B-9) and cobalamin (B-12). Here are some fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E or K.

Minerals come from the earth or from water. Plants and animals absorb them to get nutrients. The “major minerals” are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfur and chloride. They are considered major minerals because adults need them in large amounts.

The “trace minerals” are chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc. Your body needs them in smaller amounts.

It would be hard to “overdose” on vitamins or minerals you get from the foods you eat -- but if you take supplements, you can easily take too much. This is even more of a risk if you take fat-soluble vitamins.

Whole foods are your best sources of vitamins and minerals. They offer three main benefits over supplements;

1. They contain a variety of the micronutrients your body needs. An orange, for example, provides vitamin C but also beta carotene, calcium and other nutrients. A vitamin C supplement lacks these other micronutrients.

2. They provide dietary fiber, which is important for digestion and can help prevent certain diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Adequate fiber intake can also help prevent constipation.

3. They contain other substances such as antioxidants which slow down the natural process that leads to cell and tissue damage.

If you depend on supplements rather than eating a variety of whole foods, you miss the potential benefits of these substances.

For some people, including those on restrictive diets, multivitamin-mineral supplements can provide vitamins and minerals that their diets often don't. Older people and pregnant women have altered nutrient needs and may also benefit from a supplement.


Fred Cicetti is a freelance writer who specializes in health. He has been writing professionally since 1963. Before he began freelancing, he was a reporter and columnist for three daily newspapers in New Jersey. He has written two published novels: Saltwater Taffy, and Local Angles. You can send your health-related questions to Fred at fred@healthygeezer.com.

© 2009 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.
Search CaregiversHome
Find with keyword(s):

Enter a keyword or phrase to search CaregiversHome's archives for related news topics, the latest news stories, timely times, and reference articles.

Email or share this story Bookmark and Share

Back to Top


Prescription Card

Free Survival Guide

Privacy Statement Contact Us Site Map Products & Services Our Partners Advertise
© Copyright 2003-2019. Pederson Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.