The requirement of proteins, vitamins, fluids, minerals, and carbohydrates changes as we age. And all these nutrients have to be packaged in easy-to-absorb and easy-to-digest, frequent, small meals which are well spaced and spread out over the entire day.
Aging is a process which is linked with a release of a lot of free radicals in the body, also called oxidation of cells. Greying and falling of hair, weak muscles, reduced skin tone, susceptibility to colds and coughs, and lack of energy are symptoms of oxidation. Vitamins like vitamin A, C, E, and some minerals are essential in the right quantities to neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals in your body.
Food becomes very vital during old age as you can spend some quality time with the rest of the members of the family.
Various factors can hamper a balanced diet, especially for senior citizens. These issues can limit the ability to absorb some of the best nutrients for seniors from food alone.
- Aging can reduce the ability to metabolize critical minerals and vitamins and can lead to appetite loss.
- Most seniors cook less than before.
- Women especially should be cautious about their diet as they age. During menopause, the Calcium absorption decreases, and they may get weakness in joints and susceptibility to fractures quickly.
- Dental issues can affect the consumption of essential foods. Food cooked should be soft and comfortable to chew, in case there have been teeth extractions for dentures being used.
What Is a Dietary Supplement?
Dietary supplements are substances you can use to add nutrients to your diet or to lower your risk of health problems like arthritis or osteoporosis. Nutritional supplements come in the form of capsules, pills, gel tabs, powders, liquids, or extracts. They might contain minerals, vitamins, amino acids, fiber, plants, or other herbs or enzymes. Often, the ingredients in dietary supplements are added to drinks, including foods. A physician’s prescription is not needed to use nutritional supplements.
What If I’m Over 60?
People over age 60 may need more of some minerals and vitamins than youngsters do. Your dietitian or physician can tell you whether you need to change your diet or take a mineral or vitamin supplement to include enough of these:
Calcium, along with vitamin D, helps to keep bones healthy at all ages. Bone loss can aggravate fractures in both older men and women. Calcium is found in dark-green leafy vegetables like kale, milk, and milk products (low-fat or fat-free is best), canned fish with soft bones, and foods like breakfast cereals.
Most people’s bodies make sufficient vitamin D if they are in the sun for 20 to get enough vitamin D that way. Try adding vitamin D-fortified cereals, vitamin D-fortified milk and milk products, and fatty fish to your diet, or use a vitamin D supplement.
Chondroitin and Glucosamine
Our bodies must manufacture chondroitin and Glucosamine because they are not present in natural food. Both are critical substances of healthy cartilage.
As you age, it’s useful to take supplemental chondroitin and Glucosamine and to help in the treatment of osteoarthritis by reducing joint pain and slowing the progression of the disease.
This vitamin is essential to form RBC (red blood cells). It is found in bananas, potatoes, fortified cereals, and chicken breasts.
Vitamin B12 helps keep your nerves and red blood cells healthy. While the elderly require just as much vitamin B12 as other adults, some have problems absorbing the vitamin found in the diet. If you have this problem, your dietician may recommend that you use a B12 supplement or eat foods like fortified cereals that have this vitamin added.
Fish oil seems to be recommended for almost every ailment and used as a preventative measure for nearly everything that can go wrong as we age. That’s why supplemental fish oil is an industry that makes around $1 billion a year. As with many things in the practice of nutrition science, the exact reasons why fish oil does what it does is still needs to be figured out. But what fish oil intake helps is relatively well known by now, such as helping to support cardiovascular health.
Most primarily, fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, like the fatty acid DHA. Fish oil has been used to help treat skin dryness and the eyes. It can also reduce triglycerides in individuals with higher levels.
Other purported benefits of fish oil supplementation include helping with prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression.
Another critical aspect of nutrition found almost only in dairy products is a group of bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics are organisms that chiefly help in digestion but have aided with other problems involving excretory function and bowel movements. You’ve probably noticed the word “probiotic” splashed across yogurt cartons. As with Calcium, though, if you are allergic to dairy for whatever reason, your probiotic intake may be less than the norm, so taking supplemental probiotics is a great idea.
But one truth about aging is that your bodies need a little extra help with each passing year. Aging bodies can lose the ability to use or produce minerals, essential chemicals, and nutrients that support healthy living. Keep on enjoying everyday tasks (or even barefoot waterskiing). As always, ask your dietician if you have concerns about your health or whether any supplement is right for you.