As we age, most of our bodily functions tend to slow down, their functionality output reduces. So does the digestive system function!
The digestive system in comprised of smooth muscles that contribute to gastro-intestinal motility. As we grow old, these muscles lose their tone, so they push food through the digestive system slower than it would in the jolly younger days. This means that the food we consume will spend more time lingering in the digestive tract than it should. This in turn prevents absorption of fresh nutrients from the just consumed meal. This is the hallmark of nutritional vulnerability in the senior years!
The complex physical and chemical metabolic processes by which your body uses food, water and nutrients slows down. These age-related changes to your digestive system tract make nutrition supplementation more important in your senior years.
At a point when food supplements must be added into your diet, the following should be noted;
- Talk to your dietitian; a supplement that seemed to help your neighbor might not work for you.
- Remember, just because something is said to be natural doesn’t mean it is safe or good for you. It could have side effects or interact with your medication.
- Choose brands your doctor/pharmacist/dietitian recommends. You might supplement with ingredients you don’t need.
- Make sure any claim about the supplement is scientifically proven.
- Supplements will never replace a balanced diet.
- Contrary to a popular belief, vitamins are not drugs or miracle cures.
Some of the mineral and Vitamin deficiencies will present with some symptoms whereas others won’t. For example, chronic fatigue, anemia, increased infections, dry or paler than usual skin signals an Iron deficiency. Weak bones and muscles, painful joints and frequent fractures signals a calcium deficiency. Using a broad-spectrum approach for supplementing would be better than a single nutrient approach since some deficiencies are not detectable in their early stages. Therefore, it is important to monitor our usual bodily functions to seek for supplementation when there is still time for recovery.
We share some of the best supplements for seniors including their natural sources;
- Vitamin B12
Essential for optimal brain and nerve functions. We risk Dementia and Peripheral neuropathies if you are Vitamin B12 deficient. Natural sources include Fish, Meat, and Poultry, eggs, milk and milk products.
- Vitamin D
Essential for calcium absorption and immune support especially in common flues, type-1 diabetes and some cancers. Spending up to 30 minutes under the sun helps your skin produce an active form of Vitamin D.
Foods rich in vitamin D include; Tuna, Mackerel, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and fortified cereals.
As we age, it gets harder to build and maintain muscle mass. Muscle mass is essential for the immune system. Adults above 50 years require higher amounts of protein than young adults.
Protein powder added into a daily shake is the best way to meet the daily requirement.
Foods rich in protein include, beef, chicken, beans and almonds.
Maintain strong bones and muscle to fend off fractures. However, too much calcium can increase your chances of getting heart attack.
Natural sources include; low fat milk, yogurt, broccoli and cottage cheese.
Essential for proper heart and bone functions. It reduces the risk of kidney stones, lower blood pressure and lower risk of cancer and digestive disorders.
Natural sources include; Bananas, potatoes, avocado, peanuts, citrus fruits, milk and leafy green vegetables.