3 Supplements The Older Generation Need To Be Taking
“If I knew I was going to live this long I'd have taken better care of myself” - Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle was probably speaking for the majority, if not all, of us. Even thinking about our health doesn't happen a great deal in youth and certainly old age is a concept that is so far away as to be effectively non existent. We are fortunate that health and fitness relative to our lifestyle, usually including physical activity of various kinds is virtually automatic when we are young. As we travel through middle age to old age life gets in the way on an increasing basis and it requires an effort to maintain good health and exercise, although still very desirable and definitely to be encouraged, often becomes more difficult or impractical. Appropriate exercise in later years will be dealt with in a separate article but here are three supplements that are very beneficial as the aging process inevitably slows us down. In fact, the following supplements are to be recommended for all ages and are complementary to a balanced diet and exercise but can be considered basic supplementation for seniors.
Omega-3 Fish Oil
Fish oils are one of the best selling nutritional supplements on the market for all ages but why are they of particular interest to seniors? Here are five popular reasons for adding fish oils to your meal plan.
Omega-3's in fish oils play a crucial role in brain function including memory and cognitive performance but the body cannot make its own.
Fish oils are good for the heart. They help maintain cardiovascular health and according to research appear to help lower the risk of heart attack, strokes, high blood pressure and clogged arteries.
Fish oils and omega-3 fatty acid are a natural anti-inflammatory. They are a natural and inexpensive way of reducing chronic inflammation, one of the factors contributing to many illnesses and diseases. Fish oil is also free of the side effects that go along with many pharmaceuticals.
The omega-3's found in fish oils may help increase bone density and calcium levels. Studies have found that women over 65 living with osteoporosis had increased bone density and less bone loss over a 3 year period compared to those who took a placebo. If you are suffering from any form of arthritis it will be worth discussing the benefits of a fish oil supplement with your doctor.
Fish oils help to lower triglyceride levels, higher triglycerides being one of the risk factors in diabetes. They also help raise HDL or good cholesterol levels.
I personally use the Omega-3 Fish Oil by Ascenta Health, NutraSea. Their line is independently 3rd party tested, is non-GMO and is derived from sustainably sourced ingredients. Their NutraSea +D also contains 1000IU of Vitamin D per teaspoon (more on that further on!).
This supplement is a concentrated source of nutrients in powder form. As such, they are actually suitable and important for all ages but perhaps arguably of even more importance for older people who may not be getting enough of the vital nutrients from their food due to various reasons such as reduced appetite, less ability to regularly shop for fresh produce etc. Greens – often called Green Superfood – should be taken in conjunction with your diet, as should all supplements by definition, but are a great insurance policy for all of us and will enhance most, if not all, diets.
We all know dark, leafy green vegetables are good for us. Every day, studies and articles tout the nutritional benefits of consuming foods like kale, spinach and broccoli, which are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, and low in carbohydrates, sodium and cholesterol. The recommended five servings of vegetables a day (the equivalent to 2.5 cups of cooked vegetables or four to five cups of fresh vegetables) but this can be difficult to consistently maintain on a daily basis and might also be deficient in the required nutritional value due to the length of time in the journey to the stores or being left unused at home for too long.
Greens contain a huge number of beneficial ingredients with many virtually impossible to source individually and in the right amount and balance and they have a long stable shelf life that makes them very convenient and accessible and can easily be taken on trips out. On this point, it is important to stress that the recommended dose should be taken and consistently. Taking a green supplement once in a while will not provide the optimal health benefits of daily consumption.
The Greens I've been using for the last few years has served me very well. CytoGreens by NovaForme is infused with great superfood ingredients and all leafy green nutrients I need.
What are Multivitamins? Well, of course, the answer is obvious; many different vitamins amalgamated in one easy to take pill or capsule dose. They are the biggest selling supplement and this is for good reason. Multivitamins conveniently do away with the need to go through the task of choosing and then buying (at great expense) several different vitamins. Even if this were a viable option, which ones of the hundreds of variations available would you choose and what dosage would be correct? The beauty of multivitamins is that they contain the key vitamins and minerals the body need that help to ensure good health. They are safe, effective and go a long way to correcting nutritional deficiencies which may occur due to personal circumstances such as in later years. For instance, medication can also cause nutrient depletion. The multivitamins available vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer but they should all contain the six key elements detailed below in accordance with the consensus from nutritionists. The list does not include iron as individuals over 50 generally meet their iron needs through diet alone.
One of many reviews found that vitamin deficiencies are commonly linked to chronic diseases, and supplementation may help. Even a complete diet may not be giving you the nutrients you need, when you need them. That’s where multivitamins come in and a daily multivitamin can help provide a good foundation for your health. It can also help when you’re experiencing stress, sleeping poorly, or not getting regular exercise. Even with a “perfect” diet, these issues can make it tough for your body to properly absorb the nutrients.
Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb calcium, which is important for bone health. A deficiency of this vitamin can increase your likelihood of getting sick, getting bone and back pain and can cause bone and hair loss. It is known as the “sunshine vitamin” as you should be able to get the daily amount required by being in the sunlight for 15 minutes. This doesn't sound like very long but in certain climates in winter, Canada included, it can be impossible and equally so if you work in an office during daylight hours. Importantly, Vitamin D is hard to come by in food so this is an essential ingredient of your multivitamin. See also Calcium below.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient, which means that we must get it from food or supplements. Unfortunately, many people do not eat Magnesium rich foods as a matter of course and certainly not on a regular basis. It is best known for being important to our bone health and energy production. However, Magnesium may have more benefits than that. This mineral can also:
- calm our nervous system and reduce stress
- ease sleep problems
- regulate muscle and nerve function
- balance blood sugar levels
- make protein, bone, and even DNA
Your body needs Calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Your heart, muscles and nerves also need calcium to function properly. Some studies suggest that Calcium, along with vitamin D, may have benefits beyond bone health, perhaps protecting against cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. A substantial proportion of the population doesn’t get enough Calcium from their diet particularly in the over 50 age group. This means those people aren’t getting the mineral they need for strong bones and teeth. Women in particular start losing bone density earlier, and getting enough Calcium from the start is the best nutritional defense against this loss.
Zinc tends to be low in older people and anyone under a lot of stress. This is basically everyone! It makes sense as Zinc supports our immune system and helps our body use carbohydrates, protein, and fat for energy. Deficiency symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, taste and smell changes, impaired immune function and slow wound healing .
The average North American diet isn’t rich in foods that offer Zinc, and the body can’t store Zinc, which is why it is recommended that your daily supplements highlight this ingredient. Here again, studies have shown that a large percentage of the population are not getting enough Zinc.
Folate or Folic Acid
Folate or Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) is best known for aiding in fetus development and preventing birth defects. But if you’re growing out your nails, fighting depression, or looking to combat inflammation, this ingredient is important, too.
Folic acid acts by helping the body produce and maintain new cells. In particular, red blood cell formation is dependent upon adequate levels of this vitamin. Folic acid deficiency is a known cause of anaemia in both adults and children.
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential vitamin that your body needs but cannot produce. Vitamin B12 has many roles in your body. It supports the normal function of your nerve cells and is needed for red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis.
Vitamin B12 may benefit your body in impressive ways, such as by boosting your energy, improving your memory and helping prevent heart disease.
Here are 8 health benefits of vitamin B12 relevant to older people, all based on science.
- Helps With Red Blood Cell Formation and Anaemia Prevention
- May Support Bone Health and Prevent Osteoporosis
- May Reduce Your Risk of Macular Degeneration
- May Improve Mood and Symptoms of Depression
- May Benefit Your Brain by Preventing the Loss of Neurons
Vitamin B12 deficiency has been associated with memory loss, especially in older adults. The vitamin may play a role in preventing brain atrophy, which is the loss of neurons in the brain and often associated with memory loss or dementia.
- May Give You an Energy Boost
- May Improve Heart Health by Decreasing Homocysteine
High blood levels of the common amino acid homocysteine have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
- Supports Healthy Hair, Skin and Nails
In conclusion, whilst a good diet and exercise continue to be of paramount importance, the above three supplements are great additions to your daily routine and will definitely augment even the best diet that may still be lacking in essential nutrients.
By Paul Penrose
Paul has has over 40 years of business experience working in a variety of industries all over the world. His latest venture with his son Richard has seen him get involved in the supplement industry right here in Canada. Even though Richard runs the day-to-day operations in Ontario, Paul has taken a keen interest in supplementation for the over 65's while enjoying all the outdoor (and indoor!) activities Newfoundland has to offer, where he currently resides.