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The Benefits of Supplements for Seniors





Today’s elderly may face challenges daily in meeting their nutritional needs. The elderly may fail to eat properly especially as they experience decreased ability to taste and smell which affects the enjoyment of food. Loss of teeth and poorly fitted dentures can cause chewing problems and mouth sores, making eating difficult. The following is a summary of research demonstrating the beneficial effect of adequate vitamin and mineral intakes on chronic diseases often associated with aging.
*If you have a pre-existing medical condition, please consult your doctor prior to the consumption of multivitamin/multimineral supplement.


Nutrients and Brain Health: Alzheimer's disease (AD) and cognitive functioning
· Alzheimer's is a degenerative brain disease that can cause a person to forget recent events or familiar tasks. The risk of Alzheimer's disease increases with age.4
· Nutrients, such as antioxidants and B vitamins, play an important role in healthy brain functioning. High blood levels of antioxidants are associated with improved mental function, including memory.5
· A diet rich in antioxidants may protect against Alzheimer's disease and slow the progression in people already diagnosed with Alzheimer's.6
· Vitamin B12 and Folate may have beneficial effects on overall cognitive abilities.7 Low blood levels of Folate and Vitamin B12 and elevated homocysteine levels have been associated with a higher incidence of Alzheimer's Disease.8
· A good multivitamin/mineral supplement, including vitamin C, B6, E, D, Folic Acid and minerals such as Iron, Zinc and Selenium, could improve mental functioning and might even delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease.9


Antioxidants, phytochemicals and the prevention of eye disease
· As the population ages, the incidence of age-related eye diseases increases. Two of the most prevalent eye conditions affecting those over 60 are age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
· Antioxidants, in particular the carotenoid lutein, may prevent macular degeneration and cataract formation.10
· Vitamins C, E and carotenoids have been shown to delay the onset of age-related vision disorders such as cataracts and macular degeneration.11


Nutrients and immune functioning
· As a person grows older (50 years and above), their immune response declines. A challenged immune system can increase the risk and severity of infections in seniors.
· Supplementation with Zinc, Selenium and antioxidants (Vitamin E and Beta-Carotene) may improve immune function and reduce the incidence of infectious illnesses in seniors.12


Nutrients and Cancer Prevention
· Vitamin E may also protect against prostate cancer and, when partnered with the carotenoid Lycopene, may help kill cancerous cells in the prostate.13 14
· Multivitamins may reduce the risk of colon and rectal cancer. This benefit has been attributed to the Folic Acid found in multivitamins, although other micronutrients may also have provided beneficial effects.15 A modest protective effect has also been attributed to Calcium.
· Women who consume a diet low in Folic Acid may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.16 The risk is believed to be higher in women who consume larger amounts of alcohol, as alcohol is believed to interfere with folate metabolism.17 The positive correlation between antioxidants (Vitamin C, E, A and Selenium), Calcium, Vitamin D and a reduction in the incidence of breast cancer is still being studied.


Calcium, Vitamin D & Osteoporosis
· One in four post-menopausal women and one in five senior men are affected by osteoporosis.18
· Daily supplementation with calcium and vitamin D may reduce morbidity and mortality from osteoporosis in men and women aged 65 and older.19 Calcium helps to build and maintain bone mass whereas vitamin D can help the body absorb calcium properly.
· Many seniors have inadequate vitamin D levels as the ability to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight or food sources declines with age.20 This can contribute to osteoporosis and is also associated with muscle weakness, which can affect functional mobility and put seniors at increased risk of falls and fractures.21 Seniors should consider taking a trusted, complete multivitamin on a daily basis to avoid micronutrient deficiencies that may affect health. As most nutrients work more effectively when taken together, multivitamins provide several benefits not achieved by using single supplements.


4Nutrition and Alzheimer's: how strong is the link? University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter. February 2002; Volume 18, Issue 5. 5Posner, BM, Jette, A, Smigelski, C, Miller, D and Mitchell, P. Nutritional risk in New England Elders, Journal of Gerontology, 1994; 49:M123-132 6Engelhart, M. Geerlings, M.I. Ruitenberg A. Dietary Intake of Antioxidants and Risk of Alzheimer Disease. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2002; 287, 3223-3229. 7Riggs, K. Spiro A. Tucker K. Rush D. Relations of vitamin B12, vitamin B6, folate and homocysteine to cognitive performance in the Normative Aging Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1996; 63: 306-14. 8Clarke, R. Smith D. Jobst, KA, et al. Folate, Vitamin B12 and Serum Total Homocysteine Levels in Confirmed Alzheimer Disease. Archive of Neurology. 1998; 55: 1449-1459. 9Nutrition and Alzheimer's: how strong is the link? University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter. February 2002; Volume 18, Issue 5. 10Seddon, J, Ajani, UA, Sperduto, RD et al. Dietary Carotenoids, Vitamins A, C, and E, and Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration. JAMA 1994;272: 1413-1420. 11Jacues, P. The potential preventive effects of vitamins for cataract and age-related macular degeneration. Int. J. Vitam. Nutr. Res. 1999: 69, 198-205. 12Girodon, F. Lombard M. et al. Effect of micronutrient supplementation on infection in institutionalized elderly subjects: a controlled trial. Ann Nutr Metab 1997; 41:98-107. 13P Plander, D Azzi, Lycopene in association with alpha-tocopheral inhibits at physiological concentrations proliferation of prostate carcinoma cells.Biochem, Biophys, Res Commun. 1998: 250: 582-585. 14Fairfield, K. Fletcher R. Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults. Journal of the American Medical Association 2002; 287. 15Giovannucci E. Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, et al. Multivitamin use, folate and colon cancer in women in the Nurses Health Study. Annals of Internal Medicine. 1998; 129: 517-524. 16Zhang S, Hunter DJ, Hankinson SE, Giovannucci El, Rosner BA, Colditz GA, Speizer FE, Willette WC. A prospective study of folate intake and the risk of breast cancer. JAMA 1999; 281: 1632-1637. 17Hillman RS, Steinberg SE. The effects of alcohol on folate metabolism. Annual Review of Medicine. 1982; 33: 345-54. 18Seniors Info Exchange, Seniors in Action, Ministry of Health Canada, Spring 1995. 19Dawson-Hughes B, Harriss SS, Drall EA, Dallal GE. A controlled calcium and vitamin D supplementation trial in men and women age 65 and older.New England Journal of Medicine 1997; 337: 670-676. 20Dawson-Hughes B, Dallal GE, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on winter-time and overall bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women.Annals of Internal Medicine 1991; 115: 505-512. 21Janssen, H. Samson M. Verhaar H. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2002; 75: 611-15.


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