Food Supplements – as you age, manage the deficiency?
Having just read an article on food supplements in the Which magazine – a classic easy to write piece about misleading combination products. It highlights that some combinations make legitimate health claims for one ingredient and provide more well established/expensive ingredients with no health claim. Glucosamine with Vitamin C a case in point. Are consumers buying what they don’t need? This caused me to reflect if well meaning consumer journalism actually divert people from supplementing their diet where a true deficiency occurs.
Whilst I don’t know in detail the demographic of the Which magazine readership, I suspect many like myself won’t see 21 again any time soon. So, does this article deter them from supporting their wellness and health through dietary supplements? It’s a point an ageing population should strongly consider.
Form your own view
The 'Which' article which caused me to reflect can be read here.
“A study mapping the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies across eight different European countries found that over 90 per cent of older people had inadequate vitamin D intakes."
In 2016, the PAGB and HSIS commissioned a report – ‘The Hidden Health Challenges – the importance of nutrition as we age’. The report argues that there is a strong case to supplement our diet with some nutrients as we age, be this due to changes in our diet, habits and how we are unable to absorb all the nutrients we need. Its not all doom and gloom – there are options to stay healthy and well. Two supplements to contemplate as we age are Omega 3 oils and Vitamin D.
The consumption of oily fish, has been in decline for many decades. Due to taste, availability or childhood memories of unrefined Cod Liver Oil (as part of the post war health effort); the levels of Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids consumption are universally low. These oils cannot be made by the body, we can only absorb them. They are a vital part of what makes us healthy. Government recommendations are to eat 2-3 portions of oily fish a week. Few it seems want to.
There have been many reports from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) about at risk groups for Vitamin D deficiency. Those >65 years of age are one group at risk. Age diminishes the bodies capacity to produce Vitamin D, without considering if we expose our skin to enough sunlight in the summer.
It is agreed that good nutrition can play a key role in helping people remain well as they get older. Food alone will not meet the needs of an ageing population. Malnutrition is a widespread problem among residents of care-homes. The report accepts that further research is required, as with all health issues there is rarely one simple answer.
Numerous studies demonstrate the value of supplementation for improving nutrient profiles and well-being. This report suggests a potential positive role for supplementation to achieve healthy ageing. Consumer advice absolutely should point out malpractice of misleading products and claims. The industry is self-regulating. We all have a role to play. In order to be even handed there needs to be an acknowledgment that there is a role for supplements to play in our diet as we age. This too is an important take home message.
The Hidden Health Challenges
Read more about the importance of nutrition as we age and how food supplements might help.