Monday, March 29, 2010

Iron for the Over 65 Crowd

I’ve seen two diametrically opposite personality types in the over 65 crowd. The first type focuses on their aches and pains and believes that age is slowing them down so there’s really no use in trying to figure out why they feel sub-par. People that fall into the second personality type believe they can overcome aches and pains, age doesn’t matter and they are enthusiastic about all that life has to offer. As a dietitian and exercise physiologist, I think everyone will feel better if they are physically active and eat a healthy diet. And oftentimes, elderly people fall short on several nutrients, making their diet, and not necessarily age, the root cause of some of their health issues.

The elderly often take in fewer total calories, protein, vitamins B6 and B12, folic acid, iron and zinc than they need. All of these play critical roles in good health. Iron deficiency anemia, the second most common cause of anemia in the elderly, can make you feel tired, breathless and decrease your ability to focus. Iron deficiency anemia can also decrease immunity leaving you susceptible to infections and illness.

If you feel fatigued or you’re having trouble concentrating, get checked for anemia. There are many causes of anemia in the elderly so your physician will likely run a few different tests to find out what is ailing you. Talk to your physician about all of your symptoms, what medicines (prescription and over the counter) and dietary supplements you are taking. After all, you deserve to feel energetic every day!

Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Mar;79(3):516-21.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2004;8(1):2-6.
J Am Geriatr Soc 1992;40:489-96.

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