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Nutrition for seniors is a bit tricky. There are some nutrients seniors need which people in their younger years can afford to skip. And, not all seniors need to take exactly the same set of supplements each day. There are both active and healthy seniors. There are seniors who have been battling with a chronic disease for years. Each senior has his or her own unique nutritional needs that have to be addressed.
Seniors suffer from different health problems, from osteoporosis to cardiovascular disease to dwindling levels of CoQ10. The body may slowly lose its ability to process some critical chemicals it needs to get in order to maintain proper health. This is the reason that certain supplements must be taken on a regular basis.
Check with your doctor for which supplements are the best for your needs. Listed below are some of the common supplements frequently recommended for seniors:
There has been a lot of talk about fish oil. The fish oil market increased since fish oil industry began featuring Omega 3 fatty acids. This is something that the body needs badly yet cannot produce on its own. Thus it’s necessary to obtain it from supplements. Fish oil has been recommended for almost all chronic diseases common to seniors. It is also being used as a preventive maintenance for every thing that is bound to go wrong when people get older. No wonder, the fish oil industry is taking in $1 billion every year. It is a huge help for people suffering from inflammation due to arthritis. Fish oil can also help in lowering triglycerides that may lead to atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases. Fish oil supplementation can also help lower one’s risk for stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure.
Omega 3s are also known for its critical role in brain health. The human brain needs enough omega 3s in order to achieve optimal cognitive performance. Regular fish oil supplementation has been linked to reduced risk for Alzheimer’s. The American Heart Association says eating fish rich in omega 3s for at least two times a week can reduce the risk for heart disease. The omega 3s in fish oils has also been found helpful in increasing calcium levels. This translates to improved bone density and bone strength. One study which had women aged 65 and above with osteoporosis take fish oil supplements. After three years, results showed that they had reduced levels of bone loss. They were also found to have improved bone density. A British study also showed that regular supplementation of fish oils can lead to increased muscle mass. In this study, fish oil supplement was coupled with regular exercise. In turn, experts found out that fish oils played a crucial role in the prevention of sarcopenia. Sarcopenia refers to natural muscle mass loss that usually occurs in aging.
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As one gets older, the kidneys will have reduced efficiency in retaining calcium. This is turn leads to more calcium loss as more of it is excreted through the urine. This is why calcium is a nutrient especially important for seniors. The fact is that 99 percent of all calcium we get is deposited into the bones and teeth. For seniors with high propensity of falling and breaking a hip or a bone, calcium is critical. Seniors suffering from osteoporosis need to get some calcium as soon as possible. Calcium is not just important for bone health. This is because your muscles, heart and nerves also need enough calcium for these to function at its best.
Adults 51 years old and older need to have 1,200 mg of calcium per day. However, you still need to ask your doctor before taking any calcium supplements. This is because calcium supplements may interact with the medicines you are taking. This is a must especially to seniors taking meds for blood pressure regulation, thyroid hormones and antibiotics.
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SAM-e is something the body can produce. However, the amount that the body produces may dwindle as we age. This nutrient is the key in preventing depression especially among seniors. This is because SAM-e works to increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. It can also help elderly adults battle problems with osteoarthritis (OA). There are also studies which proved that SAM-e improves mobility among seniors with osteoarthritis. In the last two decades, multiple research has proven the benefits of SAM-e in improving joint health.
These benefits were attributed to the ability of SAM-e to produce anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. Relief from inflammation may be experienced after a week of taking SAM-e supplements. However, for some people it may take more than one month before the benefits are felt. SAM-e works together with B vitamins. So, it is a must that one takes B vitamins too while taking SAM-e supplements.
Experts also found out that lower levels of SAM-e is one factor that triggers neurodegeneration. Conversely, having the right levels of SAM-e has also been found to improve cognitive function. Another benefit is reduced feelings of fatigue and improved mood.
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These probiotics a.k.a. healthy bacteria are important not just for gut health. It also plays a crucial role in one’s overall health. Remember that more than 70 percent of the immune system resides in the gut. So, if there aren’t enough probiotics to guard the gut from invading pathogens, we run the risk of having diseases.
Seniors were found to have lower levels of healthy bacteria in the gut than younger adults. The elderly population were also found to have more harmful bacteria in their gut compared to what younger adults have. Unfortunately, seniors are more prone to having gastrointestinal and bowel problems. Experts say that probiotics help lower a senior’s risk for complications from food poisoning. Eighty human studies have shown positive effects on people with bowel problems, irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea. For people aged 50 years old and above, their probiotics should have B. infantis strain. These probiotics strain helps protect one against inflammation. If left unabated, inflammation can trigger the onset of the symptoms of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Furthermore, the probiotic strain called B. longum BB-536 is also found to power up an older adult’s immune system. This is important especially among aging adults whose immune system was suppressed due to increased use of antibiotics. The best thing about it is that such boost in immune system from probiotic intake was found to last for up to 20 weeks. Others even reported to continue experiencing its benefits even when they’ve stopped taking the supplements.
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Ubiquinol and CoQ10
CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) is one of the most well-researched supplements.CoQ10 has a vital role in energy production in every cell. Regular supplementation of CoQ10 has been linked to increased longevity, improved energy levels and better immune system. CoQ10 also helps ensure that vitamins E and C are better absorbed by the body. It is also essential in fighting against free radical damage. However, experts say that if you take CoQ10, it is best to opt for its better version which is ubiquinol.
One out of four Americans aged 45 and above are taking statin drugs. These drugs were found to deplete CoQ10 in the body. This is why CoQ10 is very important among seniors who are taking statins. CoQ10 is also beneficial in reducing the side effects of these statin drugs. Seniors who are diagnosed with coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, mitral valve prolapse, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels must take CoQ10 supplements. But, don’t forget to consult your doctor first.
This natural antioxidant is helpful in slowing down the process of aging. This is because it helps fight against oxidative stress that produces free radicals. With CoQ10, you will have healthier heart as it works to regulate cholesterol levels. In fact, almost all organs of the body will benefit from this supplement.
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Vitamin D Supplements
Many older adults are deficient in vitamin D. This is because as people age, the body’s ability to absorb this vitamin also declines. This is why the risk for osteoporosis increases with age. In addition, lowered levels of vitamin D in the body is also a contributing factor to muscle weakness. As a result, seniors become at risk of breaking a bone or falling.
Vitamin D helps in calcium absorption by enabling the gut to better absorb it. This is why taking vitamin D supplements on a regular basis helps reduce one’s risk of suffering from bone fractures or osteoporosis. Vitamin D is also important for the prevention of heart diseases and certain cancers. Vitamin D comes in two forms. The first one is Vitamin D2, also called as ergocalciferol. The second type is Vitamin D3 which is referred to as cholecalciferol. Vitamin D3 is one that is actively used by the body. It is also the same vitamin that is produced by the body. However, if you are a strict vegan you may opt for Vitamin D2. This is because vitamin D2 is not obtained from any animal sources. Once you take vitamin D2 your body will then convert it into vitamin D3.
Your body is capable of producing vitamin D when it has sun exposure. However, seniors are less likely to be exposed to the sun most days of the year. Sun exposure is also not possible when it is winter. Thus, the need to obtain it through supplements.
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Iron is a crucial mineral for the proper functioning of red blood cells. These red blood cells are tasked to transport oxygen to every cell in the body. A deficiency of iron leads to anemia which can bring about several nasty symptoms including fatigue. Anemia is also very common in the elderly population. In fact, almost ten percent of seniors aged 65 and above who are living independently have anemia. However, as people age there is an increased likelihood of not being able to obtain enough iron from dietary sources. Additionally, seniors diagnosed with stomach or colon cancer are at risk of losing too much iron. The same is true to seniors who are regularly taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory, and non-steroidal drugs. This is why iron supplementation is very important. This is also critical to seniors who have been through a surgery which resulted in too much blood loss which also means too much iron loss.
Iron supplements may come in different forms. These include carbonyl iron, heme-based iron and ferrous sulfate. These different forms may also have different gastrointestinal side effects. Some known side effects of iron supplementation are diarrhea, nausea and constipation. This is why it is a must to ask your doctor first regarding iron supplementation. This way, you’ll be given advice which type of iron supplement is best for you.
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Seniors who have low levels of vitamin B12 face a higher risk of brain shrinkage. In turn, they are more likely to lose their cognitive skills. Supplement vitamin B12 is also called as cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin Some symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are hallucinations, confusion and agitation. Unfortunately, with aging comes a decreased ability of the body to absorb vitamin B12 efficiently. This nutrient is abundant in the protein content of animal meat. But, seniors who are vegetarians and vegans are more likely to become deficient of this vitamin. Thus, the need to take them as supplements. Just like iron deficiency, not having enough of this vitamin also results in anemia.
Vitamin B12 is not just good for brain health. It also benefits one’s skin, heart, digestive system, hair, etc. This vitamin also works best in addressing several metabolic functions such as hormonal balance, enzyme production and DNA synthesis. It also helps alleviate the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. B-12 can be taken orally or by injections.
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There you have it. These are just eight of the most important nutrients seniors need to get. The key in staying healthy as we age is not just the nutrients. Seniors should think much about how to live happier and livelier. Most of these supplements can be taken orally. But, be sure to check with your doctor before taking any of these supplements.