If you’re an older adult exercising regularly, you’re on the right path for maintaining your health and independence as you age. However, older, active adults may need to support their bodies with extra nutrients.

Researchers from Purdue University have determined that older athletes should ensure adequate carbohydrate intake to promote glucose storage (for energy) and protein to promote muscle development. They report that older, active adults may need extra vitamins and minerals — particularly vitamins B2, B6, B12, D, E, and folic acid, and the minerals calcium and iron. They also note an increased risk of dehydration underscores a critical need for adequate fluid intake.

At the University of Padova in Italy, researchers found that amino acid supplementation could also help promote physical fitness in an older population. This study was designed to determine the effects of amino acid supplementation on activity levels in healthy but sedentary elderly participants. Forty-four people, aged 65 years and older, were chosen to receive a combination of essential and non-essential amino acids for three-months. Mobility was assessed by a six-minute walk test while a walking impairment questionnaire was used to evaluate self-perceived mobility. Muscular strength of the right hand was measured with a handgrip.

After the amino acid supplementation, researchers found the six-minute walk distance increased, and walking impairment questionnaire and muscular strength scores improved significantly.

Sources: Nutrition. 2004 Jul-Aug;20(7-8):603-8; Aging Clin Exp Res. 2004 Dec;16(6):443-7