[A basic recommendation | Senior's health diet | Digestion]
[Immunity | Vitamin A | Vitamin B1: Thiamin | Vitamin B6 | Folate]
[Vitamin B12 | Other B Vitamins | Vitamin D | Osteoarthritis]
[Osteoporosis | Antioxidants | Beta carotene | Vitamin C]
[Vitamin E | Calcium | Iron | Magnesium | Selenium | Sodium]
[Zinc | CoQ10 | Herbal medicines and senior health | References]
Growing evidence suggests that free radical damage may be an underlying cause of the aging process, thus leaving open the possibility that antioxidants may be able to slow this process.
Researchers involved in a 1997 Swiss study found similar results. The study, which was reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, involved 442 men and women, aged from 65 to 94 in 1993. Antioxidant levels were originally tested in 1971 and then again in 1993, when the participants were also given memory-related tests. Higher vitamin C and beta carotene levels were associated with higher scores on free recall, recognition and vocabulary tests.15
Low vitamin C intakes also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in seniors. During a study which was begun in 1981, USDA researchers assessed the health and nutrition status of 747 seniors. Particular attention was paid to the foods the participants usually ate and the levels in their blood of the antioxidant vitamins C, E and beta carotene. The researchers following up the subjects from nine to 12 years later found that among people who ate lots of dark green and orange vegetables, there were fewer deaths from heart disease and other causes. The results showed that a daily intake of more than 400 mg and higher blood levels of vitamin C were linked to reduced risk of death from heart disease.17
A study by researchers from the National Institute on Aging, published in 1996, examined the effects of vitamin E and vitamin C supplement on mortality risk in 11,178 persons aged from 67 to 105 who were taking part in the Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly from 1984 through 1993. During the follow-up period, there were 3490 deaths. The results showed that those using the vitamin E supplements had a 34 per cent lower risk of death when compared to those not using vitamin E supplements, and around half the risk of death from coronary disease. Those taking both vitamin C and vitamin E had a 42 per cent reduced risk.18
Vitamin E supplements also improve the effectiveness of the immune system in seniors. In a 1997 study of 88 healthy people aged 65 or older, those who took 200 mg (300 IU) each day for about four months showed an improvement in immune response. Researchers assessed the effects of either 60 mg (90 IU), 200 mg (300 IU) or 800 mg (1,333 IU) on a measure of immune system strength known as delayed hypersensitivity skin response. The results showed that those who took 200 mg a day had a 65 per cent increase in immune function. Those taking 60 mg or 800 mg of vitamin E also showed some improvements in immune function but the ideal response was seen in those taking 200 mg.19 Vitamin E may also provide relief from some of the symptoms of menopause, particularly hot flashes.20
It is never too late to slow the bone loss seen in osteoporosis and early postmenopausal years are an important time to ensure optimal calcium intake. Some research shows that taking calcium supplements later in life may lower vertebral fracture rate and prevent bone density decrease in seniors.
Treatment which combines calcium and estrogen is likely to be better at building bone than treatment with estrogen alone. In a 1998 review, researchers analyzed the results of 31 studies and found that the postmenopausal women who took estrogen alone had an average increase in spinal bone mass of 1.3 per cent per year, while those who took estrogen and calcium supplements had an average increase of 3.3 per cent. Increases in bone mass in the forearm and upper thigh were also greater in women taking supplements. The added benefit from the calcium was seen when the women increased their intake from an average of 563 mg per day to 1200 mg per day.21
Iron requirements are lower in women who have reached menopause, as they no longer lose iron in menstrual blood. However, deficiency is still relatively common and all seniors should ensure they get sufficient iron in their diets. A 1997 National Institute of Aging study suggests that low iron levels are linked to an increased likelihood of death in seniors. Researchers looked at the iron status of nearly 4,000 men and women aged 71 and over. Results showed that low iron levels increased the risk of total and coronary heart disease deaths. Those with higher iron levels had decreased risk. Men with the highest iron levels had only 20 per cent of the risk of dying of heart disease of those with the lowest levels. Women with the highest levels were about half as likely to die of heart disease compared to those with the lowest levels.22
The iron overload disorder, hemochromatosis, can result in increased risk of heart disease, liver problems and other disorders. This is one of the most common inherited diseases in certain groups of people, and middle-aged and older men may be particularly badly affected. Iron supplements should be avoided in these cases.
Selenium is a vital part of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase, and so may protect seniors against free radical damage and its consequences. It is also necessary for thyroid and immune system function, which may be disrupted in seniors. Optimal intake may also help combat psychological disorders like depression, anxiety, fatigue and appetite loss.
medicines and Seniors' Health
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Life Force Multiple -
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Thistle and Liver Disease -
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