Dietary supplements for active seniors

Dietary supplements can help stay fit and healthy in older years. (Photo: Pixabay.com)

To stay physically and mentally fit at a mature age: who would wish otherwise? Aging is a very individual process and is partially genetically determined. However, personal lifestyle and eating habits also have a great influence on health. In the following, we will be looking at food supplements that are especially beneficial to seniors.

Even people who eat healthy and balanced food cannot always cover their needs in micronutrients sufficiently. Especially older people are sometimes no longer able to get enough vitamins and minerals from the food they eat. Also, since they often eat less, they need a larger amount of nutrients in order to really be able to cover their needs.

Vitamin D plays a very important role - this vitamin, which is often found at very low levels in older people, is synthesized under sunlight in the body. Vitamins B also play an important role in seniors: we know that vitamins B12, B6 and folic acid are partly responsible for good cerebral performance. A deficiency occurs more frequently among vegetarians since these vitamins are abundant in offal, meat and fish. Therefore, even if you eat healthy and well-balanced food, it might be advisable to complete your diet with food supplements. As regards active seniors, the main issue is to maintain both physical and mental performance.

Ginseng, a natural fortifier

Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for around 2000 years. This perennial plant originally comes from the forest mountain ranges of East Asia and belongs to the family of the ivy species. Today, this plant is cultivated and can reach up to 100 years. The part mostly used are the roots, as they contain ginsenoside. These are active substances that contain performance promoting properties. The extracts are used to optimize physical and mental performance, for example in case of weakness and exhaustion, difficulty concentrating and tiredness. Ginseng is also effective during convalescence or in stressful situations. The extracts are available as capsules, tablets, or liquid preparations. They are also found in multi-vitamin preparations.

Ginkgo for a good memory

Extracts from the leaves of the Ginkgo tree are used in medicine. The active substances, mainly flavonoids and terpenoids, are extracted through a complex procedure, and are especially efficient for the treatment of various disorders such as memory, concentration, blood-circulation disorders, dizziness or tinnitus. Ginkgo extract makes the blood flow more easily, thus facilitating blood circulation in the brain's small vessels.  Furthermore, ginkgo acts against the degradation of nerve cells, protecting them and keeping them functional. As with many herbal preparations, the effects are not immediately visible. Ginkgo preparations must be taken regularly over several weeks for their healing effect to unfold.

Ginkgo has been used as a natural medicine for a long time. (Photo: Pixabay.com)

Vitamin D, vitamin of the sun

Although small quantities of vitamin D can be absorbed through the food we eat, the main part is produced by the body itself. A chemical process involving direct sunlight is responsible for generating vitamin D, which is then produced in the skin. The vitamin is fat-soluble and can be stored in the body. However, the reserves accumulated throughout the summer are often not sufficient to last for the whole winter.  Older people are especially at risk of suffering from vitamin deficiency, since their skin's capacity to synthetize can be greatly reduced. Also, since they often stay in closed rooms, their reduced mobility might make it more difficult for them to leave the house. A sufficient reserve of vitamin D is important for bone stability, muscle coordination, for the immune system, the cardiovascular system as well as the nervous system. Vitamin insufficiency increases the risk of severe falls and resulting hip fracture, and possibly the risk of cancer as well.

Multi-talented omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are mostly found in fatty fish. Most complement preparations are made from fish oil, but there are also alternatives from herbal products, for example, algae or chia seeds. Studies showed that these preparations have anti-inflammatory properties, which is why they can be used for articulation pains and rheumatic disorders. The fatty acids exert a positive effect on the blood lipid levels, which in turns decreases the risk of cardiovascular illnesses. And finally, it is suspected that these fatty acids also have a positive influence on cerebral performance. Thus, a sufficient intake of Omega-3 fatty acids should help promote thinking performance as well as reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Text: C. Schnitty, Medical Tribune public - 11/2017

Translation: myh - 12/2017

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