I am often asked if one should take vitamins once you have reached your 60s. Looking after your health at any age is important and yes, taking vitamins are important as they can supplement your diet since there are many factors that hinder a balanced diet and the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat.
Factors which limit vitamin intake:
As we age, we do not metabolise key vitamins and many people in their 60s tend to have a smaller appetite. The amount of digestive enzymes we produce are considerably less leading to poor availability of nutrients from food. A multivitamin supplement will fill in any nutritional gaps not obtained from a normal diet.
So which multivitamin should you take?
I always prefer food state multivitamins over synthetic or semi-synthetic versions. The reasons are obvious in terms of greater absorption and of course greater utilisation since the vitamins are exactly how the body likes to receive them.
I am an advocate of Alive Once Daily Multivitamin Ultra Potency, however current research points to post-menopausal women not requiring high strengths of iron in their multivitamin unless they are suffering from anaemia.
Both too much and too little iron can cause health problems. If your body does not have sufficient iron, then the body cannot manufacture sufficient red blood cells required to oxygenate all the tissues in the body. When the body has too much iron, it deposits in glands where it should not be, including the liver, heart, pancreas and joints. The common symptoms of iron overload include fatigue, joint pain and abdominal pain.
Prior to the menopause, the recommended daily intake for iron is 18 mg per day. After women stop menstruating, the recommended level goes down to 8 mg of iron per day. Alive multivitamins contain 15 mg of iron per day and may supply around 10 mg of iron per day after digestion so these would be suitable for both prior to menopause and beyond menopause. The exception would be if you have a very good diet rich in iron-rich foods which may include red meat, fish and greens. If this is the case then you may wish to take a supplement that provides a much smaller amount of iron, such as Terranova Living Multinutrient Complex.
Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel are rich sources of omega-3’s. There are numerous studies which indicate that omega 3’s can have a positive effect on the heart, joints and the brain. One particular study found that those with higher omega 3’s in the bloodstream had a lower risk of unhealthy ageing.
Whilst eating oily fish two or three times a week is the best option, this is not always possible for a variety of reasons and so it may be advisable to take fish oil capsules to fill the nutritional gap.
Lion Heart Pure Omega 3 Fish Oil capsules contain omega 3’s from oily fish such as sardines, anchovies and mackerel. The capsules are small, the product is pure and free from toxins and there is no fishy aftertaste.
For vegetarians and vegans, Echiomega is the preferred supplement where the omega 3’s are found in a form that readily converts into EPA and DHA, the active components found in fish oil. Most other vegetarian sources of omega 3’s such as flax and hemp seed oils provide an essential fat that is not readily converted into EPA and DHA which is what the body uses for its numerous functions.
Vitamin D3 for bone and heart health
Vitamin D3, also known as the “sunshine vitamin” is manufactured by the body when skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D3 production in skin declines past our 60s even when skin is exposed to sunlight. A decrease in outdoor activity, increased use of sunscreens and a less than optimal digestive function may all lead to a deficiency of vitamin D3 in the body.
Although evidence for a vitamin D overload is difficult to find, it is nevertheless a good idea to get your vitamin D3 levels checked annually. The safe upper limit of vitamin D3 to take on a permanent basis is at 4000iu per day. I tend to recommend an oral spray, DLux 3000 which delivers vitamin D3 directly into the bloodstream via the myriad of blood vessels lining inside the cheeks.
It is important to get your levels checked annually because the body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D3 from exposure to sunlight declines once we pass our 60s.
Vitamin B-12 for energy, red blood cells and nerve function
Vitamin B-12 is a vitamin that I believe is very important for everyone to take during their 50s, 60s and beyond. It is required for numerous processes but unfortunately deficiencies are very widespread with little testing being carried out to detect its levels within the body.
The reason for this widespread deficiency is that many of us lose a protein called intrinsic factor which transports vitamin B-12 from the intestines into the bloodstream. Taking tablets and capsules containing vitamin B-12 may simply not be sufficient to correct a deficiency and so it is best to take a supplement that by-passes the gastric route such as Methyl B-12. This is a lozenge that provides the most active form of vitamin B-12 called methylcobalamin which then gets absorbed directly into the bloodstream from the myriad of capillaries in the mouth.
Ageing bodies process protein less efficiently and need more of it to maintain muscle mass and strength, bone health and other important physiological functions. Yet up to one third of adults in their 60s and beyond do not eat adequate amounts for varying reasons including reduced appetite, dental issues, impaired taste as well as swallowing difficulties.
Combine low protein intake with a tendency to become more sedentary as we age and you have all the makings of deteriorated muscles, hindered mobility and slower recovery from illness.
The recommended dietary allowance of protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This equates to 55 grams of protein for a 68 kg woman and 65 grams for 80 kg man.
Studies involved in establishing protein allowances rarely included older adults and after considering all the evidence, the recommendations are to increase protein intake by 50% which means an average of 82 grams for women and 97 grams for men. Those with kidney disease should not increase their protein intake without supervision.
It would be great to consume this protein from one’s diet but to give you a perspective, a glass of milk provides only 8 grams of protein, half a cup of cottage cheese 14 grams, half a cup of lentils 9 grams and a three ounce of skinless chicken provides 25 grams.
In order to supplement one’s diet with extra protein, NuZest’s Clean Lean Protein, available in several flavours, is a premium plant-based protein powder which provides the nine amino acids used as building blocks for repair and vitality. Clean Lean Protein is free from added sugar and easy to digest.
Whilst nutritional supplements are in my opinion an integral part of your health regimen, it is important not to forget a balanced diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep.