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Baby Boomers and Vitamin Supplements

August 16th, 2005

As seen on BCTV Noon News

A simple, healthy lifestyle can beat back the hands of time

The popular notion that 50 is the new 40 and 40 is the new 30, has been reaffirmed by Canada’s baby boomers in a recent national survey. In fact, 61 per cent of baby boomers say that they feel about 10 years younger than their true age.

In the survey conducted by market research firm Pollara, when asked what they do to feel younger, 76 per cent cited regular exercise, 71 per cent say they watch what they eat and 40 per cent say they take a vitamin or mineral supplement on a regular basis. Most baby boomers surveyed don’t rely on plastic surgery, liposuction or wrinkle creams, for example, but rather believe they are taking control of the way they age by following a simpler regimen.

Baby boomers are more informed than their parents, and this gives them a sense of control and empowers them to make changes for themselves, doing it their own way. They are striving to stay fit by exercising and eating well, in order to stay young.

While many claim to feel younger than their years, the survey also reveals that many baby boomers are very concerned about maintaining their good health in the years to come, in order to reduce the risk of developing chronic disease.

For both men and women surveyed, the greatest health concern is cancer (60 per cent), followed by heart disease (50 per cent). Other concerns include Alzheimer’s disease (28 per cent), arthritis (26 per cent) and diabetes (24 per cent). When it comes to osteoporosis, though, women are three times more likely to be concerned than men (21 per cent versus 7 per cent, respectively).

It’s good news that boomers are paying attention to the future because the reality is, over the next decade, the first round of Canada’s ten million baby boomers will turn 65. Nearly 80 per cent of baby boomers believe that they have some or even a lot of control in reducing their risk of chronic disease, and it’s true, they do.

Diet can have a significant impact in offsetting, to some degree, the rising health risks that aging brings. However, even if we make healthier food choices, as we age, our bodies don’t absorb certain vitamins and minerals as well from diet alone. Not to mention, we become more complacent and tend not to cook as often and eat out more when there aren’t any children to feed If our diet is sub-optimal, a daily multivitamin supplement can provide the necessary nutritional insurance to fill in the nutrient gaps.

The Role of Supplementation in Baby Boomers´┐Ż Health

Boomers, in particular, are at risk of some vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The absorption of vitamin B12, for example, decreases after the age of 50. Strong scientific evidence suggests that the daily use of a multivitamin can help address these shortcomings. A multivitamin may also impact elevated blood levels of homocysteine, which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. A Swedish study in the Journal of Nutrition, for example, showed that the use of a multivitamin supplement was associated with reduced homocysteine levels and therefore a lower risk of heart disease. Further studies show that multivitamin supplementation can also help improve immune function and help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cancer and osteoporosis.

Boomers, particularly women, are also at an increased risk of osteoporotic fractures because of vitamin D and calcium deficiencies. According to the most recent (2002) Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Osteoporosis in Canada and the Osteoporosis Society of Canada, those over the age of 50 should be consuming 1,500 mg of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D daily.

When choosing a supplement to address vitamin and mineral deficiencies, find a multivitamin that is formulated specifically for those aged 50 plus, such as Centrum Select, which has higher levels of vitamin B6 and B12, vitamin E and a lower level of iron. Also, consider a calcium supplement with increased vitamin D, such as Caltrate SelectTM specifically formulated for older adults with 400 IU of vitamin D.

Watch for the Eating for Energy segment every Tuesday on BCTV’s Noon News Hour!