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Why the over 50s age group need to supplement – Part 1

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Life expectancy has increased steadily over the years, but our ‘health span’ has unfortunately failed to keep up. As we age, most of us would like to think of having a long and healthy life and not one where the latter years are spent depending on others or immobile with chronic disease. We all know that the combination of regular exercise, good nutrition, suitable sleep and avoidance of undue stress determines our health and there is so much we can do to influence this, especially as we age. In this three-part series, we look at the need to supplement, and key nutrients, vitamins and solutions to consider for the 50+ age group.

What the over 50s told us

Research we carried out on the 1,000 over 50s and beyond confirmed what we originally thought; when we asked people to rate the most important aspects of ageing, the top priority by far was the desire to stay active, stay mobile and continue to enjoy life events such as family holidays and traveling. Nothing extraordinary, but to remain active and mobile we need to look after three aspects of our health, namely the health of our muscles (so critical as we age), our joint mobility and of course our bones too. In essence, this means managing our musculo-skeletal health.

Age related muscle loss-why does it happen to us?

In essence, our muscles are in a state of flux and are being remodelled constantly. So every day we are losing muscle mass from degradation, but also are replenishing our muscle mass by building new muscle tissue with amino acids, which are the basic building blocks that come from the protein we ingest. When we are young, this balance is perfect, but as we age, the rate at which we lose muscle is significantly faster and our ability to build new muscle is somewhat less effective. This means that we tend to lose muscle mass and strength overall as we age. This is called age related ‘sarcopenia’. It is not a disease but a natural part of ageing. The MRI scan of younger vs older thigh muscles illustrates the point so clearly.

If unchecked, this can eventually lead to frailty in older age, as our muscle mass and strength reduce radically and typically this goes hand in hand with an increase in fat mass, as you can see from the scan.

However, the good news is that we can do something about this so called sarcopenia, but it just takes a little effort in the form of exercise (preferably resistance exercise) combined with a higher intake of high quality protein, preferably dairy or animal protein, as this type of protein contains the richest and highest quality source of essential amino acids (especially leucine), which have been proven to be the most effective for ageing muscle health, in many international scientific studies.

We need more protein

Protein is such an important part of our diet and not getting enough will only speed up sarcopenia (muscle loss with age). All people, at all ages, need protein, as protein contains amino acids which are the basic building blocks of muscle, enzymes, blood cells, bone, skin and much more. The body cannot survive without protein, so this is a key macro-nutrient for both males and females equally. Also, when we are ill or are recovering from an operation, the body’s demand for protein is even higher, as protein is the key macronutrient needed for tissue repair as we get better.

Some think that protein concern is reserved for young athletes looking to body build, but this conception is entirely wrong. In fact as we age, it has been scientifically proven that we actually need more protein. This is a big surprise to most people, but many scientific papers have been published in the science press proving time and time again that we need around 100 grams of protein each day. This new evidence supercedes the old 60 grams per day set many years ago.

But to put this in perspective, 100 grams of protein is the equivalent of four medium sized chicken breasts, and I would say that this is not always an easy level to consume every day. If you don’t like or eat meat then in numbers of eggs, this is around eighteen eggs. Rising interest in plant-based diets has resulted in the search for alternative proteins in the forms of legumes, vegetables and seeds. While we can still consider other sources, sufficient daily protein intake can be improved through tailored supplementation, such as Prime Fifty's ‘Maintaining Muscle’ protein and micronutrient drink blend, specifically formulated for the over 50s and beyond age group. 

In part two, we investigate common nutrient deficiencies and other key vitamins of concern to the over 50s. 

Prime Fifty is the only brand that offers evidence based, carefully formulated supplements tailored specifically for the needs of the over 50s.

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