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Senior Health

Your nutritional requirements changes throughout your life. Some of the changes relate to normal aging, lifestyle changes (i.e., less activity) and medical conditions.

It is important for you to be aware of your nutritional status as you progress through your life by having your healthcare provider conduct a thorough nutritional assessment including the additional needs based on any disease you may be suffering from.

Vitamin deficiencies in the elderly are not always detected until the body goes through a significant stress, such as acute illness. Supplementation is a great way to increase nutrient levels in seniors without dramatically increasing calorie intake. Certain vitamins and minerals should be considered by seniors to counteract common deficiencies. An increase in calcium is needed to support healthy bone mineral density. Zinc is needed for proper wound healing and when combined with lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene can support eye health. Vitamin B12 supports healthy cognitive functioning, while fiber supplementation supports healthy digestion.

In addition to the increased vitamin and mineral needs of the elderly, what about their capacity to absorb these nutrients? Seniors’ ability to absorb nutrients from food and supplements decreases as they age. Often times, reduced absorption of nutrients occurs as the result of decreased enzyme production by the pancreas and intestines, as well as decreased hydrochloric acid (HCl) secretion in the stomach. For patients with decreased HCl secretions, it may be best to supplement the diet with additional hydrochloric acid. Digestive enzymes and probiotics will also aid in the intestinal absorption of nutrients. Bone health should be evaluated in women over the age of 50 to determine the need for supplemental calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. Older men should increase their intake of lycopene, a bright red carotene found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables, because of its health promoting prostate effects.

 

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