Healthy aging

Nobody leaves this planet alive, unless you are an astronaut. However, we generally don’t think about aging until we reach middle age, which is generally considered around 50 years of age. Then we can begin to notice changes in our body that indicate that we cannot do the things that we used to do so easily. Maybe we don’t move as flexibly. We may begin to notice that our ability to read the phone book decreases as the print is out of focus. Maybe our energy is less than it used to be. In a sense, aging is natural; And yet from another perspective, we can certainly slow it down, compress it so to speak, so that there is more time for a healthy life later in life. There seem to be certain parts of the body that age more easily than others: the bones, the eyes, the ears, the brain, and the metabolism in general, seem to be the areas most affected.

The latest research shows that a number of factors can be introduced through simple lifestyle changes and supplements, so that some of the problems of aging can be significantly reduced or at least delayed. Here are some tips for different organ systems: tips you can use on yourself or tips you can use to help aging family members. As always, a healthy diet low in animal fat, moderate in healthy cold-water fish fat, high in fiber, with moderate and sensible exercise is the foundation of all these suggestions as a foundation.

Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. These are common diseases of aging that can affect up to 20% of the population over 65 years of age. Because the eye is continuously exposed to light, it is particularly susceptible to oxidation. Research has consistently shown that age-related macular degeneration can be modified and prevented by increasing antioxidants, particularly those containing lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamin A, zinc, and riboflavin (vitamin B2). Lutein and zeaxanthin are part of the carotene family found in eggs and in red, orange, and yellow vegetables and fruits. Vitamin E is also essential in delaying the development of cataracts: 400 international units per day of mixed tocopherols should be used with dinner. Carotenes can be found in supplements, but are best obtained from fresh vegetables and fruits. Lutein is also found in the brand of eggs known as Omega Plus®

Energy, fatigue and cognitive decline. As we age, our metabolism changes. Our ability to digest decreases and, as a result, our ability to absorb nutrients decreases. Stomach acidity often decreases, and as a result, our ability to absorb vitamin B12 from our diet decreases. Many older people suffer from GERD, also known as acid reflux, and take medications to decrease stomach acid and prevent those symptoms. These people are particularly susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency. In this age group, vitamin B12 can cause significant cognitive decline, tinnitus, and even hearing loss. There are a number of studies that suggest that both energy and cognitive ability can be increased by injecting vitamin B12 on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, blood tests for vitamin B12 do not always yield helpful results, and only a 1000 mcg test of vitamin B12 injected weekly will tell us if it is necessary; you should notice a significant increase in energy, for example, if you really need it. There are some oral vitamin B12 preparations that can be taken, but if the stomach is low in acid, the vitamin B12 may not be absorbed. If you are taking vitamin B12 by mouth, it should preferably be in the form of methyl cobalamin. Methylcobalamin works better in the brain than standard cyanocobalamin. The herb Ginkgo Biloba has also been found to be helpful here for mental alertness, as well as the macular degeneration mentioned above.

Osteoporosis. An aging disorder that is much more common in women than men, osteoporosis is the new epidemic in women after menopause. It is more common in women of short stature, with a light complexion and light hair. Fortunately, it can be detected by a bone scan, and I recommend that all women who are in menopause have a baseline bone scan. Although Premarin® used to be recommended for postmenopause, most doctors rightly avoid continuing to use this treatment as a result of the long-term negative cardiac effects of synthetic estrogen. Regular exercise, calcium carbonate (1000 mg / day) and magnesium gluconate (500 mg / day), and vitamin D3 (1000 IU / day) can help with bone loss. Natural progesterone cream can also be helpful. Consult with a doctor who prescribes bioidentical hormones. The maintenance of bones after menopause is essential; once the bone is lost, it is very difficult to regain it.

Depression. A common problem with age, depression can often be alleviated by taking more B vitamins, especially folic acid (vitamin B9), instead of antidepressants. Additionally, S-adenosyl methionine, (affectionately known as Sammy), in doses of 200 mg can often beat depression with just one hand. It is available without a prescription in many stores. St. John’s wort can also be used in mild to moderate depression.

Attitude. Obviously, attitude plays a huge role in how we feel at any age. If you can laugh, joke, and be thankful, it will help a lot. The aphorism “If you don’t use it, you lose it” it is especially true as we age. Mental challenges such as games, crosswords, puzzles, etc. keep us on the ball and using those brain cells. Everything helps.

Obviously aging is a huge topic and I have only covered a few topics. For more detailed information, I recommend the Life Extension Foundation as a trusted source for information on aging. It also has a generous website. Almost any aspect of aging can be read on the site, and you can easily search for any additional information you may need.

© Edward Leyton MD 2007 © Access to Empowerment Resources (TM) 2007