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Anti-ageing Features

Later life: the best dietary supplements for older people

If you’re over – or fast-approaching – 70 years of age, or want some advice for loved ones in this age group, this article on ‘senior’ supplements is for you.
Older couple taking dietary supplements
Nutritional deficiencies are more common with advancing age … but they can be corrected.
Rédaction Supersmart.
2021-03-16Comments (0)

3 rd age: dietary imbalances are common

There’s a persistent misconception that older people need fewer calories than other population groups.

This is completely untrue and is one of the reasons behind dietary deficiencies and even potentially tragic cases of malnutrition among older age groups (1). This is especially so when such misconceptions combine with loss of appetite, seen frequently among those over 70 (2).

To remain healthy post-70, it’s therefore important to maintain a balanced diet that provides sufficient calories, and includes all the macronutrients you need. Following an acid-base diet, for example, can help you eat more healthily (3). And it’s obviously important to also make sure you drink enough fluid.

Seniors: the most common mineral deficiencies

As explained in another of our articles, the 6 most common nutritional deficiencies, those over 60, let alone over 70, often have specific shortfalls in their diet. Let’s start by looking at minerals.

Many older people are lacking in calcium which can lead to weakening of the bones (4). To remedy this, we’d recommend eating more dairy products, tofu or almonds. You can also take a supplement containing calcium orotate, the form of calcium best absorbed by the body.

Seniors may also be deficient in zinc and iron (5-6). To correct this, you need to eat more meat (though still in moderation so as not to raise your risk of cardiovascular problems) and start supplementing with zinc orotate, (for example, the product Zinc Orotate). For those with diagnosed iron deficiency, there’s the option of taking iron supplements.

Vitamins often lacking in the over-70s

In terms of vitamins, it’s common for seniors to have inadequate levels of B9, also known as folic acid or folate. Vitamin B9 is found in poultry offal, lamb’s liver, cooked pulses ... and in supplements (such as Super Folate) (7).

Deficiency in B12 is also widespread in this age group, as the body’s ability to absorb this vitamin declines with age (8). The only solution is to increase B12 intake, ideally with the most absorbable form: methylcobalamin.

As we get older, we also need more vitamin C, because oxidative reactions increase with age (9). As well as supporting normal immune system function, this vitamin helps protect our cells against oxidative stress. Vitamin C is found in lemons, parsley, and red peppers, amongst others, and at higher levels in targeted supplements (such as Triple C).

Last but not least, older people are very often lacking in vitamin D (10). As you know, vitamin D plays a key role in maintaining healthy bones. It’s best to opt for a supplement containing vitamin D3 (such as Vitamin D3 5000 IU), as it has much greater bioavailability than vitamin D2.

Many seniors consume insufficient protein

The older we get, the greater the intensity not just of our bone demineralisation but our muscle loss too. And while vitamin D also helps to maintain normal muscle function, it is not enough. The best ‘muscle food’ is protein.

To counter age-related loss of muscle, it can help to take protein in powdered form, such as whey (11). This allows you to boost your protein intake, without triggering the satiety induced by eating a meal.

Beware of falling short of omega-3 essential fatty acids

Due again to a lack of variety and quantity in the diet, older people frequently consume too few omega-3 fatty acids (especially EPA and DHA). Yet we know that:

These fatty acids are present in various foods such as mackerel, sardines and herring, as well as in krill oil, an excellent and highly-pure source of omega-3 (you can obtain its benefits by taking the supplement Krill Oil).

Popular supplements among the over-70s

To make life easier, many over-70s choose to take synergistic formulations, which combine a number of specific trace-elements and vitamins. There are thus dietary supplements that offer a combination of calcium, magnesium, or vitamin D3, K2... all of which are good for bone health (one such product is Super Bone Formula).

In the case of joint problems, older people often opt for supplements containing extracts of the tree boswellia, the resin of which helps ease joint discomfort (14). The formulation Flexi-Smart, for example, contains boswellia, hyaluronic acid, phytosterols ...

People in their sixties and seventies are often keen to increase their intake of fisetin, a plant pigment with particularly welcome properties (there’s a significant amount in the formulation Senolytic Complex for example) (15).

In the same vein, nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) has also proved to be very popular. This molecule is the most direct precursor of a crucial coenzyme called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), levels of which decline with age (16). Supplementing with NMN is thus popular with seniors (one such product being Nicotinamide Mononucleotide).

It’s important to state that if you’re on any medication, we recommend you consult a health professional before starting to take any dietary supplements.

References

  1. BROWNIE, Sonya. Why are elderly individuals at risk of nutritional deficiency?. International journal of nursing practice, 2006, vol. 12, no 2, p. 110-118.
  2. WIKBY, Kerstin et FÄGERSKIÖLD, Astrid. The willingness to eat: an investigation of appetite among elderly people. Scandinavian journal of caring sciences, 2004, vol. 18, no 2, p. 120-127.
  3. RAYNAUD-SIMON, Agathe, REVEL-DELHOM, Christine, et HÉBUTERNE, Xavier. Clinical practice guidelines from the French Health High Authority: nutritional support strategy in protein-energy malnutrition in the elderly. Clinical nutrition, 2011, vol. 30, no 3, p. 312-319.
  4. https://www.inserm.fr/information-en-sante/dossiers-information/osteoporose
  5. Cabrera ÁJ. Zinc, aging, and immunosenescence: an overview. Pathobiol Aging Age Relat Dis. 2015;5:25592. Published 2015 Feb 5. doi:10.3402/pba.v5.25592
  6. ANDRÈS, Emmanuel, FEDERICI, Laure, SERRAJ, Khalid, et al.Update of nutrient-deficiency anemia in elderly patients. European Journal of Internal Medicine, 2008, vol. 19, no 7, p. 488-493.
  7. Reynolds EH. Folic acid, ageing, depression, and dementia. BMJ. 2002;324(7352):1512-1515. doi:10.1136/bmj.324.7352.1512
  8. BAIK, H. W. et RUSSELL, R. M. Vitamin B12 deficiency in the elderly. Annual review of nutrition, 1999, vol. 19, no 1, p. 357-377.
  9. Harrison FE. A critical review of vitamin C for the prevention of age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;29(4):711-726. doi:10.3233/JAD-2012-111853
  10. Eriksen EF, Glerup H. Vitamin D deficiency and aging: implications for general health and osteoporosis. Biogerontology. 2002;3(1-2):73-7. doi: 10.1023/a:1015263514765. PMID: 12014847.
  11. Coelho-Júnior HJ, Rodrigues B, Uchida M, Marzetti E. Low Protein Intake Is Associated with Frailty in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies. Nutrients. 2018;10(9):1334. Published 2018 Sep 19. doi:10.3390/nu10091334
  12. Jean-Marie BOURRE, Relations entre acides gras oméga‐3, oméga‐9, structures et fonctions du cerveau. Le point sur les dernières données. Le coût financier alimentaire des oméga‐3, Oléagineux, Corps Gras, Lipides. Volume 10, Numéro 3, 165-74, Mai 2003, Colza : enjeux et nouvelles synergies de la recherche, NUTRITION
  13. EU Register of nutrition and health claims made on foods (v.3.5)
  14. Yu G, Xiang W, Zhang T, Zeng L, Yang K, Li J. Effectiveness of Boswellia and Boswellia extract for osteoarthritis patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complement Med Ther. 2020;20(1):225. Published 2020 Jul 17. doi:10.1186/s12906-020-02985-6
  15. MAHER, Pamela. Modulation of multiple pathways involved in the maintenance of neuronal function during aging by fisetin. Genes & nutrition, 2009, vol. 4, no 4, p. 297.
  16. Hong W, Mo F, Zhang Z, Huang M, Wei X. Nicotinamide Mononucleotide: A Promising Molecule for Therapy of Diverse Diseases by Targeting NAD+ Metabolism. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020;8:246. Published 2020 Apr 28. doi:10.3389/fcell.2020.00246
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