Vitamins And Dietary Supplements

The Benefits of Dietary Supplements for the Elderly



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Aging changes all the rules. Robust health depends on eating a well balanced diet rich in nutrient dense foods, but the ability to absorb nutrients from our food diminishes with age. Our body composition changes and energy requirements scale down, while the need for micro-nutrients rises.

Many older people lose their appetite and eat the same foods over and over. Convenience foods may be easier to prepare but they simply can't meet the nutritional needs of the elderly. Dietary supplements bridge the nutritional gap opened by aging because supplements can compensate for poor nutrient absorption, offset poor dietary habits and help prevent or delay the onset of many chronic diseases associated with aging.

Our body mass index changes as we age. Muscle mass decreases and our percentage of body fat rises. These bodily changes together with a sedentary lifestyle mean lower caloric requirements but the need for quality protein remains constant and older adults need higher levels of critical micro-nutrients, not less.

Gerontologists and nutritionists have finally understood that the amount of nutrient needed to prevent chronic disease in the elderly is a more important measure of recommended daily allowances (RDAs) than the amount of a nutrient necessary to prevent deficiency, and the RDAs are being investigated and revised accordingly.

Mounting evidence shows the significant role played by the B vitamins in the prevention of blood vessel disease and sustaining brain function. Vitamin C and the carotenoids (Vitamin A is the best known) can help prevent freedom destroying cataracts and macular degeneration. Vitamin D and calcium can help prevent crippling osteoporosis.

In 2002, The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) issued a comprehensive report, based on extensive scientific research, that confirms the importance of nutritional supplements for the elderly. Among other conclusions, the report found that "consistent use of multivitamins with minerals and such single-nutrient supplements as calcium and antioxidants (vitamins C and E) demonstrated substantial positive impact on the immune systems of elderly people and played a key role in protecting eye and brain function and maintaining bone mass."

Dietary supplements may not be a substitute for a diet rich in nutrients but it's hard to argue with the scientific evidence. Researchers believe that the elderly can enjoy significant health benefits simply by adding a regimen of daily nutritional supplements to their daily routine.

The elderly fear losing their independence, condemned to living an old age of constant illness and doctor visits, forced into taking handfuls of expensive drugs each day just to stay alive. What kind of life is that?

Dietary supplements can benefit the elderly in so many ways. Instead of zombies slumped in front of the TV, healthy older people can keep their minds alive reading their favorite books and magazines. They can get out to enjoy freedom, mobility and the benefits of exercise. Health brings freedom instead of the worry of dependence. Indeed, a wise regimen of dietary supplements can help the elderly enjoy the prime of their lives.

 

More about this author: John McDevitt

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