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Senior's Health 1 of 2 : next >>

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Senior's Health Information:


If you're in the expanding group of people who once again get a discount based on your age, welcome to the senior's health page. If you're no longer asked for your ID, ever, when buying liquor, welcome to the senior's health page. If you just feel like you've earned some seniority, welcome to the senior's health page.

You may lead an extremely healthy lifestyle, but you may also need some "tweaking" as my wife calls it. In either case, most health professionals recommend a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement and that everyone drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet.

Some health issues that seniors may be considering include:

  • Arthritis and bone strength
  • Heart and cardiovascular health
  • Mental clarity and memory retention
  • Maintaining regular sleep patterns
  • Vision and your spouses hearing
  • Budgeting for health

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A Basic Recommendation
A recommendation to doctor's for their senior patients general health by Michael Janson, M.D. is as follows: "Start patients with a basic comprehensive multivitamin and mineral with enough B complex; basic amounts of vitamin C and E; beta-carotene, trace minerals including chromium, copper, manganese, selenium and zinc; and if possible adequate magnesium and calcium, which may need to be taken separately because of their bulk."25

"Start by suggesting that people older than 40 take 400-800 IU of vitamin E per day, up to 4,000 mg/day vitamin C, 50-100 mg/day CoQ10, and if they have trouble sleeping, 100 mg melatonin at bed-time. It is also a good time to incorporate mixed Bioflavonoids (1-2g daily), specifically quercetin for the heart, liver and stomach and proanthocyanidins for the brain, kidneys, eyes and blood vessels."25

By the year 2010, one in five people in the United States will be age 65 or over. Increasing research effort is being directed into ways of helping seniors stay healthy, independent and mobile. Lifestyle and environmental factors play a part in some of the most common age-related illnesses including heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer, high blood pressure and chronic infection; which means that people have at least partial control over how well they age.

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Seniors Health Diet
Deficiencies of many nutrients are common in seniors. Normal changes associated with aging, some medications for chronic disease, and relatively common disorders such as diabetes, high blood pressure, constipation and diarrhea can result in higher requirements for some nutrients.

Seniors diets are often deficient in several nutrients including vitamins A, C, D, E, B12, thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, niacin, folic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. These deficiencies may be due to lower dietary intake, decreased absorption, altered metabolism or increased excretion. Deficiencies often develop slowly and may mimic the normal changes of aging, so they are not obvious or easily noticeable. Seniors are particularly at risk of marginal vitamin and mineral deficiencies and early recognition of malnutrition is very important in preventing diseases, maintaining a healthy immune system and increasing lifespan.

As many as 30% of seniors over 65 develop the inability to produce adequate stomach acid which can lead to reduced absorption of certain vitamins and minerals; including folic acid, calcium, iron and vitamin B12. By the age of 80, as many as 40% of seniors may be unable to produce stomach acid. Improving digestion can be valuable in improving seniors' health.

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Aging is generally associated with a decline in immune response, which may be linked to a cumulative marginal deficiency of trace minerals and vitamins. Because aging and malnutrition exert cumulative influences on immune responses, many seniors have poor immune responses and are therefore at a high risk of infection. Supplementation with high doses of single nutrients may be useful for improving immune responses of self-sufficient seniors living at home. Treating nutritional deficiencies in seniors can reduce the risk of infections and possibly slow the aging process.1

Vitamin A
Many seniors may consume less than recommended levels of vitamin A, which may lead to poor vision, dry skin, lowered immunity, and may contribute to diseases such as cancer. However, large doses of vitamin A could be harmful for seniors as these may be cleared from the blood and tissues more slowly than in younger people. Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene may be more beneficial.

Creams that contain the vitamin A-derivative, tretinoin, may help to combat premature skin aging, otherwise known as wrinkles. In a 1997 study, researchers investigated the activity of enzymes known as metalloproteinases which break down collagen, and found that exposure to ultraviolet light increased the activity of these enzymes. This may lead to wrinkles. The researchers then found that tretinoin could block the enzyme activity, opening up the possibility that tretinoin may be useful in treating patients with signs of premature skin aging.2

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Vitamin B1: Thiamin
Vitamin B1 deficiency may be relatively common in seniors and supplements are likely to be useful in improving quality of life. In a 1997 study, New Zealand researchers measured red blood cell concentrations of a thiamin-dependent enzyme in 222 people aged over 65 years. Thirty-five people who had low levels were divided into two groups. Half were given either a thiamin supplement of 10 mg per day and half were given a placebo for three months. The researchers then assessed blood pressure, body weight, height, body mass index, handgrip strength and cognitive function in the subjects. The results showed that the supplements decreased blood pressure and weight. Seniors taking the supplements reported improved quality of life, sleep and energy levels.3

Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 requirements increase considerably in seniors, possibly due to reduced absorption. Low vitamin B6 levels may also lead to increased risk of several disorders, including heart disease. In a study published in 1996, Dutch researchers studied the vitamin B6 intake and blood levels in 546 Europeans, aged from 74 to 76, with no known vitamin B6 supplement use. They also examined links with other dietary and lifestyle factors, including indicators of physical health. The results showed that 27% of the men and 42% of the women had dietary vitamin B6 intakes below the mean minimum requirements. Twenty-two per cent of both men and women had low blood levels.4 The effects of deficiency are usually reversible with supplementation.

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Many seniors do not consume enough folate in their diets. In a 1996 Canadian study, researchers investigated folate and vitamin B12 intakes and body levels in 28 men and 30 women aged over 65 years. The results showed that 57% of men and 67% of women were at risk of deficiency.5 One of the most common disorders in seniors is cardiovascular disease. There is increasing evidence that folic acid deficiency plays a role in the development of this disease through an increase in homocysteine levels. Supplements may be useful for their protective effects.

Folate deficiency may also cause or worsen the mental difficulties often experienced by seniors. In a study done in 1996 in Spain, researchers analyzed the relationship between mental and functional capacities and folate status in a group of 177 seniors. In this study, almost 50 per cent of the people had folate intakes below recommended values. Those with poor test results had significantly lower folate levels.6

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Vitamin B12
Inadequate vitamin B12 intake is relatively common in seniors, with 10 to 20 per cent of seniors having some level of vitamin B12 deficiency. This can result in reduced mental capacity and other neurological disorders that can resemble Alzheimer's disease. Seniors often have a reduced capacity to absorb vitamin B12 due to low stomach acid and lack of intrinsic factor, the compound necessary for absorption. A stomach disorder known as atrophic gastritis may also limit absorption. Some experts believe that the incidence of pernicious anemia resulting from low vitamin B12 levels may be more common than previously thought, with up to 800,000 seniors in the USA suffering from the disease.

Low vitamin B12 levels in seniors may also reduce the effectiveness of the immune response. Recent research has shown that seniors with low vitamin B12 levels may have impaired antibody responses to vaccination even though their immune systems are apparently functioning adequately.7

Supplementation can prevent irreversible neurological damage if started early. Seniors with vitamin B12 deficiency may show psychiatric or metabolic deficiency symptoms even before anemia is diagnosed. Screening for low vitamin B12 levels is necessary in seniors with mental impairment, although it has also been found that deficiency states can still exist even when blood levels are higher than the traditional lower reference limit for vitamin B12. Patients who are most at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency include those with gastrointestinal disorders, autoimmune disorders, Type I diabetes mellitus and thyroid disorders, and those receiving long-term therapy with gastric acid inhibitors.8

Other B Vitamins
Mild riboflavin deficiency may be quite common in seniors whose diets are low in red meat and dairy products. Niacin deficiency is also relatively common.

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Vitamin D
Vitamin D absorption from food may decrease with age. Seniors often also get less exposure to the sun and have a reduced capacity for skin synthesis, a major source of vitamin D. This may increase the risk or worsen the symptoms of osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes and arthritis.

Studies show that seniors, particularly those who are housebound or in institutions, may be at high risk of vitamin D deficiency. Seniors who frequently use sunscreens may also be more likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiency. A study published in 1998 in the New England Journal of Medicine found vitamin D deficiency in 57 per cent of a group of 290 patients who were admitted to hospital. In a subgroup of the patients who had no known risk factors for vitamin D deficiency, the researchers found that 42 per cent were deficient. They concluded that vitamin D deficiency was probably a substantial problem.9

In recognition of the increased vitamin D needs of seniors, the RDAs have been raised. For adults under 50, the RDA is 200 IU; while for those over 50, it is now 400 IU; and for those over 70, it is 600 IU.

Osteoarthritis sufferers who have low vitamin D intakes seem to suffer more severe symptoms than those whose intakes are high. In a study done in 1996, researchers at Boston University studied more than 500 seniors with osteoarthritis of the knee. They found that those with the lowest intakes and blood levels of vitamin D were three times more likely to see their disease progress than people with high intakes and blood levels. Vitamin D may help reduce the cartilage damage seen in osteoarthritis.10

New Arthritis Treatment Options
Recently several treatment options have become available. A news release regarding glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate dated March 29, 2000 from the National Institutes of Health - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases -- reports as follows. It reports that glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate treat osteoarthritis. A systematic analysis of clinical trials on glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for treating osteoarthritis (OA) has shown that these compounds may have some effectiveness against the symptoms of this most common form of arthritis.

Researchers at the Oregon Health Sciences University report that MSM has been found to promote joint mobility and when combined with Glucosamine Sulfate, offers a powerful formula for joint health. Recent studies show that MSM offers a natural way to help promote joint comfort.1

Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO) seems to function in at least four different ways. One of the first observations noted when favorable Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO) results are seen is the lubricating quality of Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO). Decrease or loss of morning stiffness is commonly noted shortly after commencing Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO) treatment. Next, Cetyl Myristoleate functions as an anti-inflammatory. Lessening of swollen digits is often seen after the 4th or 5th week of Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO) treatment. Third, Cetyl Myristoleate CMO functions as an immunomodulator or immune system regulator. Cetyl Myristoleate’s ability to regulate or calm down hyper-immune responses is one of the most exciting qualities and shows that Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO) may be helpful in addressing the symptoms related to many autoimmune diseases. And finally, Cetyl Myristoleate functions as an analgesic or painkiller and CMO has been helpful for many sufferers of muscle tension headaches and fibromyalgia. 2

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