The Art of Aging Well – Supplements and Aging — 

Supplement bottles with yellow capsules and tablets spread around them.What do supplements and aging well have to do with one another? Sometimes, nothing at all, as it turns out. In fact, studies seem to have disproved the urgency of taking dietary supplements. For example, while fish oil is one of the most popular supplements for aging, numerous studies have shown that it has no benefit.

The supplement industry

The supplement industry has grown extensively since it emerged in the 1980s and 1990s. It isn’t a stretch to say that today, you can purchase supplements for every “ailment” – real and imagined. As of 2021, the industry was valued at nearly $60 billion in the US and nearly $200 billion worldwide. This is probably no surprise, as there are advertisements for supplements everywhere, backed up by entire vitamin aisles in stores, and specialty stores that focus only on supplements and well-being.

This is an image of vitamins and supplements on shelves in a store.Here’s something you may not know: The supplement industry is regulated by the FDA differently from conventional foods and drugs. Way differently! In fact, supplements do not undergo a pre-market approval process and are considered safe until proven unsafe. That’s a little rattling!

So why is a poorly regulated industry doing so well? Ease of access to information (from well-researched to completely made-up), an abundance of advertising, and the availability of products for just about every purpose keep the supplement industry booming.

“Dr. Google”?

It’s easy enough to look up symptoms on the Internet (“Dr. Google”) – say, dry skin and exhaustion during menopause – and come across thousands of supplements claiming to treat those very issues. But… how do you know which products to purchase? Can too much of a mineral or vitamin cause more harm than good? How long to take the supplements before giving up on them? How many different supplements is it healthy to take? How many micrograms or milligrams of something does your body need to “fix” your symptoms or condition?

A father and son sitting together, the son's left arm are across his father's shoulders and both are smiling at one another.

Those questions present some of the problems with the supplement industry – how can a nonexpert figure all of this out? At PPMA, we recommend that patients of all ages work with a certified dietitian nutritionist (CDN). This guarantees that you will receive personalized and evidence-based advice. Because they understand the science of nutrition and its impact on health and disease, CDNs can help you reach your nutritional goals and needs.

What a CDN can do:An image of a certified dietitian nutritionist (CDN) studying foods and levels.

Using your medical labs and a review of your diet and lifestyle, they can analyze your diet and identify any gaps or excesses in your nutrient intake. They will recommend high-quality and safe supplements from reputable manufacturers if your body needs supplementation. A certified dietitian nutritionist will review your supplements for necessity, medication interactions, and potential side effects or allergic reactions, and they will monitor your response and report any positive or negative effects to your doctor.

At PPMA, working with a certified dietitian nutritionist means you will learn about the benefits of whole foods, lifestyle changes and improvements, the proper supplementation as necessary. In fact, our nutrition program includes one-on-one meetings with a CDN, as well as monthly meetups on Zoom to discuss and review various health-related topics.

An image of a middle-aged mother and her daughter embracing and laughing. Aging.Whether you’re 22 or 82, a healthy aging process begins within – the desire to live a life of health and wellness. Feed your body whole foods, stay hydrated, and move your body. If you are concerned about something happening in your body, speak with your physician and a certified dietitian nutritionist. They will be able to determine if supplements are the solution or if, perhaps, there are other ways to treat your symptoms.

Supplements or not, the choice is yours. But don’t forget, the art of aging well is more than just pills and potions. It’s about living well, loving well, and laughing well.

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