Studies show key picks for elderly

Hoping for good mental and physical health in your senior years? It may be as simple as A-B-C—or rather, C, D and E! These three vitamins are the focus of two recent studies on how we can head off common health issues associated with aging.

At Harvard Medical School, researchers looked at the role of vitamin D in preventing falls among elderly people. Vitamin D is critical in bone health and is often included in calcium supplements. Their review involved data sources as far back as 1960 and included only double-blind randomized, controlled trials of vitamin D in elderly populations. Data on over 11,000 participants revealed that “vitamin D supplementation appears to reduce the risk of falls among ambulatory or institutionalized older individuals with stable health by more than 20%.”

Antioxidants are another super nutrient for the elderly, especially for those concerned with Alzheimer’s disease. At Johns Hopkins University, researchers found that elderly men and women who supplemented with vitamin E and vitamin C in combination had a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. The researchers reviewed an existing study of the elderly (aged 65 years or older) looking for instances of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Among the 4,740 participants, the researchers found that the use of vitamin E and C supplements in combination was associated with reduced Alzheimer’s prevalence. Lower Alzheimer’s risk was also noted for adults who supplemented with vitamin E and multivitamins containing vitamin C. They concluded that antioxidant supplements merit further study for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sources: JAMA. 2004 Apr 28;291(16):1999-2006; Arch Neurol. 2004 Jan;61(1):82-8