Aging is an unavoidable process and while many people tend to focus on the outer effects of aging, it is more than just the oxidation of skin cells that cause wrinkly skin. Aging also involves specific functional cell changes, such as a cell’s ability to multiply.
When the cell-multiplication process slows down, the immune system of the body will be affected. This explains why our grandparents tend to have a slower recovery rate from injuries and viral infections. However, a more critical problem commonly faced by seniors and which needs our immediate attention is malabsorption.
What is malabsorption?
Malabsorption is the inability of the digestive system to absorb nutrients from food and it can happen to anyone of any age. However this condition tends to be more common among those in their golden years.
Malabsorption happens due to a dysfunction in any of the 3 major organs of the human digestive system namely the liver, pancreas or the small intestine. The liver produces bile, which is predominantly used to process fat. If this bile is not delivered to the small intestine, malabsorption may occur.
The same is true of enzymes produced by the pancreas. These enzymes are important components that allow us to absorb nutrition from our food, and since most of this absorption occurs in the small intestine, this too is essential for proper absorption.
When any of these three are reduced in efficiency, as they are with advancing years, then malabsorption will occur. When this occurs in seniors, however, it is essential that a multiple supplement with more than 100% of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is used. This type of nutritional deficiency can be very serious at an age when so many normal biochemical processes are slowing down.
The immediate symptoms of malabsorption are diarrhoea and weight loss, although the more serious longer term effects are anaemia due to a deficiency in folic acid and iron and a reduction in the blood’s ability to form clots due to a deficiency in Vitamin K absorption.
Many of the problems associated with ageing are now believed to be connected with lifestyle and diet. Heart disease such as atherosclerosis is now known to begin earlier in life, as are many other conditions once believed to be associated with age. However, irrespective of all this, it is essential that the aged are provided with vitamin and mineral supplements offering more than 100% RDA.
Important Supplements for the Elderly
For older women who are prone to osteoporosis due to malabsorption, calcium is of particular importance. A dosage of at least 1000mg daily should be taken and extra Vitamins A, E and magnesium will also be necessary to assist in the absorption of calcium.
- Vitamin B
A good Vitamin B complex supplement is necessary as the elderly are prone to Vitamin B deficiencies, especially Vitamin B12.
Chromium is a mineral which helps enhance the activity of insulin. Besides that, it is also believed that chromium plays a role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat and protein. Chromium and Vitamin B are the dynamic duo required for cardiovascular and neurological health.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
CoQ10 is an essential component which assists in the production of energy within the mitochondria cell. Drugs, such as statins, used for the treatment of high cholesterol levels and which are commonly prescribed to the elderly, interfere with the metabolism of CoQ10. As such, a supplement for this important enzyme will help maintain high energy levels.
Many seniors who are on prescription drugs tend to take other herbal remedies and supplements which may not be good for them. It is always important to consult a physicians before consuming any natural remedies or supplements to prevent adverse side effects.
However, where the elderly are safely taking a vitamin and mineral supplement, it is extremely important that this contains more than just the RDA. Absorption problems are very common in the elderly, and this excess can make sure that they receive more than they would otherwise