Supplements For Healthy Aging

There has never been a more important time to maintain a healthy immune system. Yet, as we age, our body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients decreases.

Some of these changes are natural. A drop in stomach acidity can decrease our ability to process some vitamins and minerals.

Other changes are affected by external factors. Many prescribed and over-the-counter medicines can decrease older adults’ ability to absorb vital nutrients.

To further complicate matters, many adults also experience a decrease in appetite as they get older.

The Neurobiology of Aging Journal refers to this reduced desire to eat as the “anorexia of aging.” It can affect up to 30% of seniors, according to a study published in Maturitas.

The Importance of a Balanced Diet

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that help the body perform vital tasks like converting food into energy, fighting disease and healing from injuries.

Eating a healthy diet is the best way to get the nutrients our bodies need, according to Harvard University’s HelpGuide publication.

But that’s not always easy for older adults who live alone, rely on a fixed income and/or don’t know how to cook. Dental pain, mobility issues and other health conditions can also make it hard to make and enjoy our favorite meals.

“The adequate intake of vitamins in the elderly is a concern,” said Duffy MacKay, ND, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, an industry group representing dietary supplement makers, in a recent WebMD article. “Where dietary changes are difficult, a dietary supplement can be a responsible, reasonable solution.”

Key Supplements for Senior Nutrition and Wellness

Our dietary needs change as we get older. The following vitamin supplements have been associated with healthy aging. They may also help prevent chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Keep in mind, there is no research available to prove or disprove that supplements offer protection against COVID-19.

Calcium for Healthy Aging

As we age, our body starts to experience bone loss. Women are especially vulnerable, according to the AARP. Calcium supplements can help support healthy bones and teeth. They may also mitigate the symptoms of osteoporosis, said WebMD.

Vitamin C for Immune Health

As a popular supplement for protection against infection, Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the severity of upper respiratory infections. It is also commonly regarded as beneficial for boosting immune function.

Vitamin D for Chronic Conditions

Over time, we lose our ability to effectively synthesize vitamin D from sunlight, according to the AARP. Vitamin D supplements may help prevent conditions like heart disease and cancer. They’ve also been linked with a reduction of chronic pain.

Vitamin B12 for Cognitive Health

Vitamin B12 deficiencies — even mild ones — have been associated with an increased risk of developing dementia and nerve function, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The Institute of Medicine recommends getting your B12 levels checked regularly and using supplements when necessary.

Potassium for Healthy Hearts

Potassium supplements help support healthy heart and kidney functioning. They may also help lower one’s risk of developing arthritis, high blood pressure and some cancers.

Fiber for Healthy Aging

In addition to supporting a healthy digestive tract, fiber supplements may also help ward off conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Before introducing supplements into your diet, talk to your doctor. They can help you understand how much of each supplement you need depending on your age and health needs.

Some supplements can also interact negatively with popular medications, including causing dangerous side effects. Be sure to tell your doctor what prescriptions and over-the-counter treatments you take on a regular basis.

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