Live Longer – Don't Forget Your Vitamins

No one knows how long we will live, but it is well known that what we consume will make the odds higher in our favor. According to researchers, those who favored vegetables, fruit, poultry, low-fat dairy products and whole grains, lived an average 10 years longer than those who ate less-healthy foods.

Life expectancy at birth is now more than 78 years, compared with about 47 years at the start of the last century. The increasing life expectancy during the last century shows that diet, exercise, and factors can help prolong good health for most people.

Below is a list of countries ranked by life expectancy at birth, the average number of years of life by people born in the same year, if mortality at each age remains constant in the future. As you can see, the United States ranks 38th on the list partly due to the poor dietary choices of many Americans.

Before the 1970's, nutritional services for the older population were largely the domain of hospitals and long-term care facilities. Then in 1973, because of the aging population, rising health care costs, greater interest in preventive health care, the Nutrition Program for the Elderly was established to enhance food and nutrition services from hospitals to include communities and homes.

Older people, particularly Caucasian women, lose bone mass and have a higher rate of fractures than other groups. Low calcium intake as well as metabolic factors may contribute to calcium deficiency. Reduced efficiency of calcium absorption can be due to inadequate dietary intake, age related changes in gastric acidity, or other factors. Other factors may include age-related changes in hormonal control, aberrations in vitamin D metabolism, and imbalances of protein, phosphorus, alcohol, and electrolytes with calcium.

Seniors with mild memory issues may slow the rate of brain shrinkage by taking high daily doses of vitamin B, say researchers. A study from the University of Oxford found that taking vitamin B tablets daily may reduce by as much as half the rate of brain atrophy in older people with mild cognitive impairment.

About twenty percent of people over the age of 70 in the United States have mild cognitive impairment, during which they can experience problems with memory, language, or other mental functions. Although the symptoms may not be serious enough to interfere significantly with their daily lives, about half of them may develop dementia, primarily Alzheimer's disease, within five years of diagnosis.

B vitamins, such as folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, control the levels of an amino acid called homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine have been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's Disease.

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