Learn More About Senior Supplements
1. What Is The Most Important Supplement A Senior Can Take?
A high-potency multivitamin probably ought to be at the top of anybody’s list. This is especially the case for anybody over the age of fifty. As we get older it becomes progressively harder for absorb or manufacture certain essential nutrients, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D being two good examples.
And bear in mind that as our aging bodies reach a stage at which they find it a real challenge to maintain what scientists refer to as homeostasis (that is, maintain correct body temperature, blood pressure, glucose levels, and so on), vitamins and minerals become more crucial than ever to make sure the human machine continues to hum along smoothly.
A multivitamin that has reasonable amounts of vitamin E, B-vitamins, ascorbic acid, magnesium, and trace minerals can act as a kind of biochemical “minimum wage” so that the various organs of your body will be assured of getting the nutrients needed for day-to-day (and moment-to-moment!) operation, regardless of what might be going on with your diet and your digestion.
2. Ok, What Else Is Important?
Also crucial for healthy aging is a good intake of antioxidants. With the passage of time, free radicals—that is, toxic and highly reactive chemicals caused by cigarette smoke, pollution, not enough fruits and vegetables (have you have your seven to eight servings today?), too much polyunsaturated fat, ultraviolet radiation, and simply getting older—induce cellular changes that not only promote skin wrinkling but hike the risk of degenerative diseases that affect the heart and other organs, the immune system, the joints, even the brain.
Such potent free radical scavengers as CoQ-10, grape seed extract, alpha lipoic acid, and N-acetyl-cysteine may offer considerable protection against this chemical onslaught. While these safe and well-researched nutrients are not usually found in significant amounts in multivitamins, they can be purchased individually. However, most consumers will find it easier to look for a broad-spectrum antioxidant formula so as to minimize expense and pill-swallowing.
Next on the list for many older consumers might be some sort of sleep formula. With age, levels of certain neurotransmitters—that is, brain chemicals—such as serotonin tend to decline. This can make for a lot of tossing and turning at night, and lessened energy and well-being during the day, not to mention depressed immune function.
Fortunately, many seniors find that a few milligrams of melatonin taken at bedtime can restore restful, more youthful sleep. But since biochemical individuality means that different people often react to the same supplement in different ways, other seniors may find that that the amino acid 5-HTP, which appears to boost serotonin in the brain, will do a better job of promoting a good night’s sleep. Alternatively, herbal formulas that include some time-honored sleep aids as valerian, passionflower, and hops, might be the best choice for some.
Past the age of fifty, half of us develop joint difficulties, often in the form of osteoarthritis. For this reason joint formulas are some of the hottest nutritional supplements on the market today. Most people these days are aware that glucosamine and chondroitin can be effective at lessening arthritic stiffness and pain, but other nutritional options also exist that can greatly boost the effectiveness of a natural approach to joint health.
Consider looking for joint supplements that also contain standardized extracts of non-toxic inflammation-fighting herbs such as turmeric, ginger, and boswellin. These may provide many of the pain-relieving benefits that NSAIDS and steroids offer, but without the potential for harmful side effects. Other often-overlooked alternatives include omega-3 supplements from fish oil and flax oil--not to mention the methylating agent S-adenosyl-methionine, better known as SAM-e, a supplement often useful when other approaches fail.
Remember how when you were a kid you used to able to eat three or four slices of pizza without suffering any ill effects, or wolf down a greasy cheeseburger, a helping of fries, and a malted and feel just fine? As we get older levels of digestive enzymes and stomach acids usually decline. This means that we not only often suffer discomfort after meals, but more seriously, can cause our bodies to do a poor job of absorbing nutrients so critical to maintaining life and health. (Dental problems often add to poor digestion, too, by making chewing difficult.)
But digestive enzyme formulas taken right before mealtime can make this situation manageable for most seniors. Also sometimes useful for digestion is betaine hydrochloride (only take this one on a full stomach!). And keep in mind that for cases of acid reflux the chewable form of licorice known as DGL may be very healing and soothing, as can a few ounces per day of aloe vera juice.
3. And, Last But Not Least
To many seniors brain health formulas may be the most important supplements of all, given that so many of us fear the onset of age-related cognitive decline more than any other aspect of getting older, including death.
Fortunately, a great deal of research suggests that the judicious use of certain nutrients, including ginkgo biloba, DMAE, vinpocetine, phosphatidyl serine (also known as PS), and fish oil may help maintain the heath of the brain by promoting cell membrane permeability, raising levels of neurotransmitters linked to memory and concentration, and improving blood flow to the central nervous system. As a rule, look for a brain formula that contains several of these natural brain-boosters rather than buying them separately.
Sometimes well-meaning critics of dietary supplementation contend that vitamin pills are no substitute for a good diet, plenty of rest, and vigorous exercise. They doubtless have a good point, but that doesn’t mean that scientific research doesn’t support the notion that supplements can’t play a significant role in improving, or at least preserving, quality of life for seniors. Eat your vegetables. Go to the gym. Get enough rest. Have some fun!