Aging and Nutrient Absorption
As we age, there are a number of natural physiological changes experienced in gastrointestinal (GI) function. In 2015, a scientific research team led by D. Rémond, conducted an extensive reviewof these GI changes1. They wanted to gain a better understanding of the GI tract in the elderly in order to find dietary solutions to help prevent malnutrition. Some of their findings included that:
- Starting in the mouth, there seems to be a decrease in saliva production.
- While there does not seem to be a decrease in acid production in the stomach, there is often an increase in the incidence of stomach infections which can decrease stomach acid production.
- There are decreases in the production of digestive enzymes in the intestine.
With these gastrointestinal tract changes, there are associated consequences to the absorption of nutrients that we ingest. Saliva is loaded with enzymes that help in the breakdown of nutrients to make them more usable and available in the body. So with the decrease in saliva production, there may be challenges impacting optimal nutrition starting right in the mouth. Decreased stomach acid can affect bioavailability of nutrients. Decreases in the production of digestive enzymes may result in lowered nutrient availability as well as changes in the endocrine system which impacts how we feel about food and satiety.
Aging populations are at risk for many nutrient deficiencies. There are metabolic challenges that require older individuals to take specific steps to help ensure that that they get adequate nutrition.
To support healthy aging, many circumstances call for the use of dietary supplements to deliver optimal levels of key nutrients. For minerals, highly bioavailable and tolerable forms such as chelates offered by Albion® Minerals can be beneficial in helping to meet these challenges.