Scientific Research Confirms the Importance of Nutritional Supplements for the Elderly

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) found that the daily use of multivitamins with minerals and other nutrients provides significant immune and other benefits in elderly persons. Multivitamins, antioxidants, calcium, omega fatty acids, folic acid and Vitamins B, C, D and E are among some of the most researched and reviewed nutrients. The 100-plus page report put together by CRN—titled The Benefits of Nutritional Supplements—reviewed more than a decade’s-worth of the most scientifically-significant studies measuring the health benefits of these supplements. The CRN found that eye and brain function as well as the maintenance of bone mass and immunity were among some of the positive effects seen from daily vitamin supplementation.

As we age, our body is degraded and no longer functions as optimally as they did when we were younger. Free radicals attack our cell and mitochondrial membranes and degrade the structure and ability for the cell to produce and transfer energy; this damage also hinders the cells’ ability to absorb nutrients. Supplements are able to provide high doses of essential nutrients in absorbable forms so our bodies are able to maintain their nutritional needs. Due to the natural degradation that takes place while we age, the elderly are also less able to fight off simple colds and infections and take longer to recover. Taking supplements on a daily basis can help lessen the risk for getting sick as well as the length of time and severity of the sickness.

Over the years, research has found that many Americans’ diets are deficient of critical nutrients, such as; calcium, vitamin D and vitamin E. These deficiencies are even more common in the elderly population and have more severe implications due to the overall degraded state of their cells. The CRN review also identified that those living in nursing homes are at a greater risk of unrecognized vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Researchers have identified supplementation as a major step toward remedying these “nutrition gaps” in the elderly.

 “Daily intake of a multivitamin can have on overall immune function in the elderly,” said Annette Dickinson, Ph.D. author of the CRN review. “Adding a multivitamin and additional supplements like Vitamin D and antioxidants can boost resistance to infectious diseases and provide a significant improvement in the quality of life of the elderly.”[1]

Maintaining bone density is an area of particular concern for elderly men and women. A simple stumble can lead to a broken bone that takes much longer to heal as we get on in the years. Research has shown that proper supplementation with Calcium and Vitamin D can reduce the rate of hip fracture by at least 20%—meaning 40,000 to 50,000 fewer hip fractures each year in the United States—for an average annual savings of $1.5 to $2 billion in healthcare costs.

The review of years of research concerning the benefits of antioxidants, specifically Vitamins C and E, has shown benefits for multiple organ systems specifically eye and brain function. Studies have linked these antioxidants to a reduced risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65 in the United States. Supplementation with Vitamins C and E has also shown a significant protective effect in reducing the risk of dementia and improving overall cognitive functions.

Vitamin B-12/Folic Acid is needed by the body for over 300 daily processes, including; nerve function, red blood cell formation and energy metabolism. Low levels of Vitamin B-12 can lead to anemia and poor oxygen flow.  Vitamin B also helps keep levels of the amino acid homocysteine in check, which may help decrease heart disease risk. Vitamin B deficiency is often found in those with digestive conditions that do not allow the body to adequately absorb the vitamin from the foods they eat, such as; Chron’s Disease, Celiac Disease and IBS. The recommended dosage of Vitamin B-12 is is 2.8 micrograms per day. Pregnant women are often recommended to increase their intake of Vitamin B 12 and Folic Acid to ensure proper development of the growing fetus.

Vitamin D deficiency has become a popular topic; being linked to diabetes, heart disease, dementia, autoimmune disease and even some types of cancer.[2] There are a number of reasons you can become deficient in Vitamin D, including; skin does not absorb the sun well while your kidneys may be slower at converting vitamin D into its active form. Researchers discovered diabetics with low or deficient Vitamin D can have cholesterol buildup in the cells. A study published in 2011 said that vitamin D can improve cholesterol levels and heart disease biomarkers in diabetics.[3]

The body cannot store calcium past the approximate age of 25, making weakened bones and osteoporosis after common concerns of the aging population. Getting adequate levels of Calcium and Vitamin D is essential for bone healthy and strength. The active form of vitamin D in the body is called Calcitriol, which promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from food in the gut and reabsorption of calcium in the kidneys for bone strength. The recommended dosage of Vitamin D for an adult 51 to 70 years of age is 600 IU and 800 IU for those over 70 years of age. Calcium is also important for neurological and cardiovascular function. The recommended dosage for calcium is between 1,000 and 1,200 mg per day; and may be more depending upon pre-existing conditions and family history.

Meting the body’s nutritional needs solely through the foods we eat is a difficult take. A multi-vitamin is an excellent way to fill in the gaps in your daily diet. Multis contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and much more! Choosing the right multivitamin for you is essential, so be sure to consult your healthcare practitioner for a recommendation.

Remember; always consult your physician before starting a supplement regimen,

especially if you are taking medications.

 

 

 

References:

Scientific Research Confirms Importance of Nutritional Supplements for Elderly by the Council for Responsible Nutrition http://www.crnusa.org/benpdfs/CRN_ben_release_elderly.pdf

Important Supplements for the Elderly by Laura Candelaria http://www.livestrong.com/article/496738-important-supplements-for-the-elderly/

Brain Health: Foods & Supplements to Support Mental Wellbeing by Kara Bauer http://www.healthcentral.com/diet-exercise/c/299905/154363/supplments/2?ic=2601

Vitamin B12 WebMD http://www.webmd.com/diet/vitamin-b12-15239

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/guide/vitamin-b12-deficiency-symptoms-causes

“What Is Vitamin D? What Are The Benefits Of Vitamin D?” Medical News  Today http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/161618.php

“Has Vitamin D been oversold?” AARP http://www.aarp.org/health/drugs-supplements/info-07-2012/how-much-vitamin-d-is-enough.html?CMP=KNC-360I-GOOGLE-HEA-DSU&HBX_PK=benefits_of_vitamin_d&utm_source=GOOGLE&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=benefits%2Bof%2Bvitamin%2Bd&utm_campaign=G_Health&360cid=SI_452493114_16108259461_1

 


[1] Scientific Research Confirms Importance of Nutritional Supplements for Elderly by the Council for Responsible Nutrition http://www.crnusa.org/benpdfs/CRN_ben_release_elderly.pdf

[3] “What Is Vitamin D? What Are The Benefits Of Vitamin D?” Medical News  Today http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/161618.php