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Are dietary supplements required in old people?

Q: My father is 74 years old and my mother is 62 years old. Day by day, they are getting weak. Could you please tell me what all supplimentary diets and tablets to be given to them? They are not suffering from any disease. Should one take tablets or supplemetary diet after 50 years of age?

A:Diet and nutrition plays an important role in elderly to keep up with several degenerative processes occurring in the body. However, there is a difference in nutritional requirements in the elderly compared to adults. As age advances we lose muscle and gain in fatty tissue with less calorie intake but our need for vitamins and minerals remains unchanged. This makes nutritional requirements in the elderly more important than in adults. Moreover, aged people are more susceptible to blood pressure, diabetes, bronchitis, arthritis, osteoporosis and heart disease, which can be prevented or reduced by dietary regulation. Calories are needed to support activity and with ageing there is a substantial decrease in physical activity. Overall intake is reduced by 15% from age 45 to 55 and thereafter 10% each decade. Protein requirements are more or less same. It is suggested to consume lesser fat and fatty foods. They should eat lot of fiber to avoid complications such as constipation. Studies show that supplements especially vitamins and minerals are important for elderly. However, I will suggest you to discuss it with your doctor before giving any supplement to your parents.

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