A typical American diet does not provide enough essential vitamins. Worse yet, older people are at greater risk for vitamin deficiency because they tend to eat less, although their requirements for certain vitamins, such as B6, actually rise with age. Older people may also have problems with efficient absorption of nutrients from food. Even healthy older people often exhibit deficiencies in vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate.
Vitamins are involved in biochemical processes throughout the body and appear to be involved in protecting and enhancing cognitive function. In particular, the B vitamins play an integral role in the functioning of the nervous system and help the brain synthesize chemicals that affect mood. A balanced complex of the B vitamins is essential for energy and for balancing hormone levels. An article in the Journal of Psychopharmacology described a study of 76 older men who were given vitamin B6 or placebo and then tested on memory function. The authors concluded that vitamin B6 improved storage and information retrieval (Deijen JB et al 1992). Another study reviewed vitamin B12 deficiency in relation to memory impairment and neuropathy in older people and concluded that both memory impairment and neuropathy can be successfully managed with vitamin B12 injections or supplementation (Carmel R 1996). One study determined that low levels of folate (a B vitamin) are associated with cognitive deficits and that patients treated with folic acid for 60 days showed a significant improvement in both memory and attention efficiency (Fioravanti MFE 1997).
Taking steps to improve one’s overall health is highly recommended to help prevent or minimize age-associated mental impairment. For example, exercising regularly, not smoking, and monitoring blood cholesterol levels can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease and keep arteries open, supplying the brain with essential oxygen and nutrients.
Since most people tend to eat less as they age, the consumption of low-fat, nutrient-rich food is recommended to help prevent nutrient deficiencies. Eating large quantities of foods rich in antioxidants, such as blueberries, may provide protection from age-related mental decline.
October 10-17, 2010
New York to Bahamas
Appignani Bioethics Center
Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
1. (Oct 11) Extending healthy lifespans: Is aging a disease?
2. (Oct 15) Personalizing diagnosis and treatments: Tailored medicine for your genetic makeup
3. (Oct 16) Building a better brain: Can we become smarter, happier people?
Each topic will be the focus of one full day on the cruise while at sea. The curriculum will also include films and discussions of future medicine topics. *There will not be educational programming while docked in the Bahamas.
Total cost per person (based on double occupancy) starts at $1099. Prices are generally guaranteed until 90 days prior to sailing and may increase after that date. For details on stateroom options, call 1-800-422-0711 M-F, 8:30 am-6:00 pm or Sat. 10:00 am -2:00 pm (Eastern Time).
Ship: Norwegian Jewel
Experience Bahamas/Travel Guide
Organized through University at Sea.
To register, visit: http://www.continuingeducation.net/
Booking deadline: July 15, 2010.