EDITORIAL NOTE: This sabbatical/hiatus was planned to last two weeks which means I should be back today, but it will go on a a little longer. I will return on Thursday this week.
Some good friends, all met through blogging, are filling in for me while I take a two-week sabbatical from Time Goes By. Today it is Elaine Frankonis, who blogs at Kalilily Time and is one of the earliest elders to take up blogging. She is currently on hiatus while she settles herself into her new home and deals with other of her life's escalating complexities.
No, that's not a misspelling. “Resolution” is just not a strong enough effort. I need a Revolution – a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving.
Actually, I need to make several revolutions, but I'm starting with one I might be able to win.
That is just a part of the stash of supplements that I've accumulated in my search for the magic pill that will revitalize my joints, curb my night-time munchies, keep dementia at bay and minimize the rest of the troubling effects of aging. Do any of them work? Well, it's hard for me to say because now I have so many of them that I rarely take any of them.
So, I've decided to make some surgical strikes at my supplement collection, eliminate the least likely to succeed and come up with a reasonable number of pills to take every day. I have already thrown out all diet remedies (many of which were still unopened).
Supplements cannot replace the nutrients in whole foods, but those of us over 65 – especially if we live alone – too often don't bother to cook well-balanced meals just for ourselves. Following my doctor's advice, I already take a multivitamin as well as extra calcium. I'm also a believer in the benefits of certain herbs, so when I go to the appointment with my new doctor (I just moved to another state), I will bring a list of all the supplements I want to take.
If you decide to take supplements, there are some guidelines you should follow:
- Check the supplement label. Read labels carefully. Product labels can tell you what the active ingredient or ingredients are, which nutrients are included, the serving size - for example, capsule, packet or teaspoonful - and the amount of nutrients in each serving.
- Avoid supplements that provide “megadoses.” In general, choose a multivitamin-mineral supplement that provides about 100 percent of the Daily Value (DV) of all the vitamins and minerals, rather than one which has, for example, 500 percent of the DV for one vitamin and only 20 percent of the DV for another. The exception to this is calcium. You may notice that calcium-containing supplements don't provide 100 percent of the DV. If they did, the tablets would be too large to swallow. More importantly, divide your calcium intake throughout the day.
- Look for “USP” on the label. This ensures that the supplement meets the standards for strength, purity, disintegration and dissolution established by the testing organization U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP).
- Look for expiration dates. Dietary supplements can lose potency over time, especially in hot and humid climates. If a supplement doesn't have an expiration date, don't buy it. If your supplements have expired, discard them.
- Store all vitamin and mineral supplements safely. Store dietary supplements in a dry, cool place. Avoid hot, humid storage locations, such as in the bathroom.
- Store supplements out of sight and away from children. Put supplements in a locked cabinet or other secure location. Don't leave them on the counter or rely on child-resistant packaging.
I've been taking All-One for Active Seniors for years. It's a powdered multi-vitamin that I make into a shake each morning with V-8 Fusion juice (one fruity serving of vegetables).
All-One is the only powdered vitamin that I have been able to find that contains decent doses of a variety of nutrients – especially vitamins C, D and E, calcium, the B vitamins and folic acid.. The concoction doesn't win the aging war, but it does keep the forces in formation. And having my daily vitamins in a shake means that's one or more fewer pills I have to take.
Since I have problems with joint and muscle inflammation, I'll keep the Zyflamend AM and PM. A current Columbia study http://ict.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/6/1/74 is examining the positive effects of this supplement on prostate cancer. While that's certainly no personal concern of mine, the herbal ingredients of Zyflamend might help with what does keep me awake at night. The bottle calls for two pills in the morning and two at bedtime. I'm going to start with one each time.
Okay. That's one vitamin shake and two pills (one in the AM and one in the PM) a day – a small battle that should be winnable.
But I think that I also should take something that might bring some reinforcements to my vulnerable (and venerable) brain. Phosphatidylserine supposedly helps to strengthen the brain's ability to remember. According to the Mayo Clinic:
“Phosphatidylserine is a dietary supplement that has received a great deal of interest as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease and other memory problems. Most studies involving phosphatidylserine indicate a benefit — improved cognitive abilities and behaviors. However, it seems to be most effective in people with the least severe symptoms.”
You can get phosphatidylserine from various manufacturers. My bottle says “one softgel three times a day.” So, now I'm up to five pills a day, and that doesn't count the three prescription meds I take daily. I'm almost at my limit.
I discovered Acai long before Oprah, but like most of my other supplements, it had not seen any action in my daily regimen. Given the publicity it's gotten, it might be worth incorporating into my supplement strategy. My bottle says one pill daily.
Six supplement pills are almost more than I can grapple with each day, but if I can do that, the revolution will have been successful.
Of course, I'm faced with the problem that I have several other supplements in pill form from which I could benefit. It will be hard enough to remember to take the six pills on my list, but I'll keep them around just in case I get to a point at which I need to expand the battle front. They are all helpful in certain health-related situations:
Six supplements, not counting three prescription drugs and a vitamin shake to ingest daily. It's going to be a challenge to remember to take them all, but at least now I can trash my stockpile of other supplements that never saw any action in my body in the first place.
It's going to be a continuing battle to keep from succumbing to advertisements for supplements that will protect my brain or revitalize my body. Developing spending self-control is, obviously, another personal revolution I need to fire up. And, given the projected state of my 2009 economy, that's going to be more necessary than ever.
I wish us all a healthily revolutionary new year.
[The story bin at The Elder Storytelling Place is empty so until some new ones arrive, let's revisit some from the archive. Today, Svenka Brolopp (Swedish Wedding) from Alexandra Grabbe. All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]