Aging is a complex process that happens in many ways in the body. For a long time, the side effects of growing older were viewed as inevitable. Bone density loss, unintentional weight loss, dementia and intestinal issues were all seen as par for the course. Today, science is starting to better understand how vitamins can impact and be impacted by aging. For example, the role of gut flora and probiotics in the body is being better understood everyday. The absorption of nutrients like vitamins and minerals can impact overall fitness for aging adults. Understanding how to get enough of these substances can really improve older adults’ quality of life.
One of the most important supplements people can take as they age is calcium. Everyone knows that calcium is associated with bones. Older adults, particularly women, start to lose calcium at an accelerated rate. They’re no longer absorbing enough to replace it. As the bones become weaker, they’re also more prone to fractures. This condition is known as osteoporosis. Calcium is also crucial for the proper functioning of the muscles, nerve cells and cardiovascular system. Good dietary sources of this mineral include leafy greens, cheese, yogurt and tofu. Supplements like calcium citrate are also readily available and easily absorbed. Sometimes calcium is also combined with magnesium and zinc in supplements.Read More »
Vitamin B12 is necessary for normal cellular metabolism. It’s especially important for the nerves, blood cells and thyroid. Without sufficient B12, people can experience pernicious anemia and disorientation. In elderly people, the symptoms can sometimes be misdiagnosed as dementia. B12 is produced by micro-organisms, but is not found in plants. Most people who eat meat and other animal products get their B12 from dietary sources. Vegans and vegetarians are advised to take a supplement. B12 supplements can be completely vegan, as it’s produced by bacteria and archea. As people age, it can become harder for the body to absorb B12. Some older adults benefit from B12 injections that deliver this vitamin directly to the body.
Vitamin B6 is another substance that’s crucial for good health at all stages of life. In babies, it’s important for the development of the brain. As people get older, the body absorbs this less readily. They actually need more, and it can be hard to get it just from the diet. B6 supports the immune system and it’s also linked to good memory. Good sources of B6 in the diet include potatoes, fish and chickpeas. Folate is another B vitamin that is needed for the body to function properly. Some medications commonly taken by older people can affect absorption, so folate supplementation can be prudent.
Potassium is important for bodily systems, but particularly for the heart and circulation. Like Omega-3 fatty acids, it helps regulate blood pressure. This is one of the most common issues for older people. There’s even some evidence it can help protect against strokes. Potassium also has a role to play in muscle function. It’s another element that helps prevent osteoporosis. Dietary sources of this element include potatoes.
Most of these vitamins and minerals can be found in a good daily multivitamin. A multi will also include vitamins like A, C and E. These are antioxidants, and they’re very powerful in fighting the free radicals associated with aging. There’s some evidence that antioxidants can even help prevent cancer. Judicious supplementation with vitamins, minerals and other building blocks for cells can help people maintain health well into their golden years. They can improve energy and function in various bodily systems
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