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The most important health concern for elderly

Functional nutrition to help improve your health and wellbeing

What is elderly?

If you think about it from the standards of medicare it's 65 years of age and older.

According to AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) it's 55 years of age and older.

For me I would like to believe I will never be "elderly."

But the reality is that it's not really about chronological age, it's more about physiological age. By physiological age I mean, how aged or stressed your body systems are.

A simple example of this is if you compare a 30 year old with type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure vs. a 65 year old who is active, no diagnosed medical conditions, and eats healthfully.

So, in some sense I believe we are all elderly! LOL.

So what is so important to us elderly folks?

ANEMIA- specifically, iron deficiency anemia.

I know, its something that we don't hear a lot about but you will today.


What is anemia?

Before we can answer that question we first need to understand what blood is... or red blood cells to be more specific.

Red blood cells have the all important role of taking oxygen from the lungs throughout our bodies and then taking the waste product, carbon dioxide, away from the body tissues back to the lungs for us to exhale. Simple right?

Well, in order to do that properly, your red blood cells have a central component called Hemoglobin that binds the oxygen.

"The primary role of hemoglobin is to secure atmospheric oxygen and deliver it to our tissues for respiration."

Without hemoglobin, your red blood cells cannot secure the oxygen.

At the center of the hemoglobin molecule is Iron (Fe).

The Iron in hemoglobin allows the oxygen molecules to bind to the red blood cell.

Without adequate iron, you cannot bind the oxygen.

Make sense?

Without adequate iron, it doesn't matter how much more you breathe, how many RBC's you have, you won't have enough oxygen!

So Iron Deficiency Anemia is low iron in the blood, or RBC.


Why is Iron deficiency anemia so important?

"Anemia, to any degree, contributes significantly to morbidity and mortality... all healthcare provider should be aware that anemia impacts a significant group in our society." - hemaetologica

Anemia can predispose you to:

  • chronic kidney disease

  • chronic heart disease

  • cancer

  • inflammatory bowel disease

What are some symptoms?

  • pallor (pale complexion)

  • fatigue

  • weakness

  • labored breathing

  • headache

  • dizziness

  • fast heartbeat

  • cold hands and feet

  • tingling or a crawling feeling in the legs


Clinical Signs?

  • dry/ rough skin

  • brittle nails

  • spoon shaped nails

  • dry and damaged hair

  • alopecia (hair loss)

  • atrophic glossitis (smooth tongue- no texture)

  • paleness under lower eyelid

The conjunctiva (under eye) should be red and filled with blood vessels. When it pales or looks "white" it is an easy sign of anemia.

The World Health Organization, describes iron deficiency anemia as,

"the most common and widespread nutritional deficiency in the world."


Hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia?

Hearing loss!


Yes, seriously.

And No, hearing loss is not simply a by-product of "getting old."

AND.. "hearing loss is an independent risk factor for cognitive decline" - JAMA internal medicine

Yes, you read that correctly.

Hearing loss increases your risk for cognitive decline!

Think Alzheimers, dementia, etc.

Not cool.


So, what can I do?

Option One- food.

Shellfish. Spinach. Beans and legumes. Liver and other organ meats.

And of course red meat.

I am not a huge fan of red meat but that's a simple food source to get your iron.

Unfortunately, as we age, we don't produce as much digestive enzymes to properly break down our proteins so just eating red meat is challenging. (We recommend an enzyme supplement like Zypan from Standard Process if you need better protein digestion).

Option Two- Supplement

Most iron supplements make you constipated. So, people don't like it. I wouldn't either.

The one I use is Ferrofood from Standard Process. This one will not make you constipated. I usually take two per day.


Chronological aging is inevitable.

Physiological aging is a choice.

Choose wisely. ;-)


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