Be Proactive About Frailty As You Age4 months ago | Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
As we age, we tend to get more frail in the sense that we lose muscle mass, our bones become more brittle and we may find it harder to recover from the common cold or not bounce back as quickly after an injury.
“Frailty is most often defined as a syndrome of physiological decline in late life, characterized by marked vulnerability to adverse health outcomes. Frail older adults are less able to adapt to stressors such as acute illness or trauma than younger or non-frail older adults. This increased vulnerability contributes to increased risk for multiple adverse outcomes, including procedural complications, falls, institutionalization, disability, and death,” reports UpToDate.
“Increasingly, frailty in older patients is considered the hallmark geriatric syndrome and a forerunner to many other geriatric syndromes, including falls, fractures, delirium, and incontinence.”
But according to a recent study, frailty may not be the inevitable result of aging.
“Some patients remain vigorous, despite advanced age, while others have gradual yet unrelenting functional decline in the absence of apparent disease states, or failure to rebound following illness or hospitalization.”
And according to a recent study conducted in Ireland, having lower levels of specific dietary vitamins and antioxidants is associated with frailty.
One report discussing the study mentions that frailty affects up to 25 percent of adults over the age of 65 and more than half of adults over the age of 80.
An inadequate intake of the following vitamins and antioxidants were associated with frailty:
- Vitamin B12. This vitamin is one of the eight B vitamins. It is necessary for nerve function, brain health and production of red blood cells and DNA. This is all important for metabolism as well as cellular and nervous system functions. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia, which makes people tired and weak. This vitamin may also help prevent memory loss associated with aging.
- Folate another (B vitamin). Folate is essential for cell growth and many other bodily functions. And folate is an important nutrient for us all because of the role it plays in cellular processes such as DNA repair and energy metabolism.
- Vitamin D. This vitamin is essential for bone metabolism, muscle strength and mood, according to the report. These are all things that are very important to preserve as we age. Vitamin D is also important for immune system support.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin. These are two carotenoids and antioxidants that concentrate in eye tissue. According to the American Optometric Association, “[l]utein and zeaxanthin filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and help protect and maintain healthy cells in the eyes. Of the 600 carotenoids found in nature, only these two are deposited in high quantities in the retina (macula) of the eye.”
The study revealed that lower levels of lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin D were associated with earlier stages of “pre-frailty,” which is a subclinical precursor of frailty. Low levels of B vitamins were also associated with pre-frailty.
And if you have multiple nutrient deficiencies, this increases your risk of developing severe frailty over time.
Micronutrient deficiencies are also very common in elderly American adults due to multiple reasons. For example, aging organs slowly lose function, and this makes it more difficult for our bodies to efficiently absorb nutrients from the foods we eat. Elderly people also tend to take more medications, and medications may deplete the body of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
The good news is that we can be proactive.
“The hall mark of frailty is muscle weakness. If it is recognised in its early stages, it can be reversed. However, the longer it is present, the more difficult is it to 'bounce back' and generalised weakness and fatigue become progressively worse. This research suggests new potential treatments for a common and important condition,” according to the report discussing the study.
We have already discussed nutritional therapy as a method for addressing aspects of mental illness such as depression. Now we know we can slow down or prevent frailty through nutrition. It is especially important for seniors to eat a well balanced diet rich in nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
However, as mentioned, it is often difficult for elderly people to absorb all the nutrients they need just from food intake. This is where supplementation comes into play. Seek the advice of a competent healthcare professional who can administer a nutrient test. This test will determine if you have any nutrient deficiencies or imbalances. If you do, this healthcare professional can recommend quality supplements you can take.
I also highly recommend utilizing IV Vitamin Drips or injections. I take advantage of these on a monthly basis to address my inevitable nutrient absorption issues. They provide vitamins, minerals (and hydration) directly into the bloodstream to help boost my nutritional status and help with energy levels. I believe this has successfully boosted my immunity, energy and good health. I am also confident that along with exercising and eating healthily, these vitamin drips will help prevent frailty as I get older.
Remember, frailty is not inevitable as you get older! Be inspired by all the people in their eighties (for example) who run marathons and successfully complete very physically taxing tasks.
Enjoy your healthy life!
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