Written by: Olivia Rose ND
Mental health conditions are common in the aging population with over 20% of seniors displaying low mood.1 Mood imbalances such as anxiousness, irritability, and persistent sadness are common conditions found in people over the age of 55.2 However, mental illness is not part of the natural aging process. There are many ways to support your mental well-being and brain as you age.
Improving mental health through lifestyle changes.
Meditation is commonly used as a treatment for stress and anxiety as well as for general improvements in overall health. Mindfulness practices teach individuals how to become more present and aware, allowing for the feeling of more control during stressful events.3 In a systematic review of 47 studies and with 3515 participants, meditation programs were found to significantly improve anxiety, depression, and pain scores after 8 weeks.4
During times of increased anxiety, breathing techniques can be used to lower the stress in the body. When you breathe in deeply, it allows the body to relax, and the heart rate, respiration rate and blood pressure to decrease.5 To learn a deep breathing sequence is a simple and affordable way to help create a sense of calm during a stressful event.
Exercise is well known for its ability to improve both mental and physical health in the general population. However, due to decreased access and mobility as well as increased risk, physical activity is often neglected in aging populations. According to a 2019 review of 5 studies, physical activity can improve mental well-being in older adults.6 The review assessed the impacts of exercise on mental health in individuals over the age of 60 with no diagnosed illnesses and found that exercise was protective against depression and improved sleep quality.6
Improving mental health through nutrition.
Proper nutrition is imperative for mental health and wellness.7 The food that you consume throughout the day can directly impact the health and function of your brain and ultimately your mood. In a study assessing the role of antioxidant-rich foods, researchers found that the individuals with generalized anxiety and depression had significantly lower levels of vitamins A, C, and E in comparison to the healthy control population.8 When the participants of the study supplemented with vitamins for 6 weeks, there was a significant reduction in anxiety and depression scores.8
With age, the absorption of nutrients decreases. Therefore, the ability to take in and utilize nutrients is less efficient in older individuals.9 Additionally, with age, metabolism slows down and food requirements often decrease.9 The interaction between medications and nutrients is also an important consideration in a population that has an increased reliance on medications.9 Many drugs can interact with nutrients which may further decrease the absorption and lead to an increase in the requirements for specific vitamins and minerals.9 With a decrease in the intake of food, paired with an increase in the need for specific nutrients, it is important that seniors aim to have a nutrient-dense diet and consider a supplement to increase their nutrient intake.9
Supplementation for 50+
Due to the lack of nutrient absorption in individuals over the age of 50, some nutrients may need to be supplemented to obtain adequate levels.
For example, Vitamin D absorption decreases with age, a person aged 70 makes on average 25% of the vitamin D that a 20-year-old makes when exposed to the same amount of sunlight.10 This is especially true for individuals with increased levels of melanin in the skin, which decreases the manufacturing and absorption of vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Jamieson’s Extra Strength Vitamin D3 contains 2,500 IU of vitamin D3 and is a great way to boost Vitamin D intake in a convenient single serving.
A high-quality multivitamin may also be useful to ensure adequate levels of antioxidants and minerals and to protect the brain. Jamieson’s 100% Complete Multivitamin for Adults 50+ is an easy way to get 100% of your daily vitamin needs. It is formulated to Health Canada’s recommendations so your customers can feel confident that they are getting 100% or more of the vitamins and minerals their body needs each day.
After ensuring no nutritional deficiencies, it can be helpful to relieve symptoms of stress for individuals undergoing periods of high stress using traditional herbs. Progressive Resilient Mind is formulated with a blend of Ashwagandha and Rhodiola to help relieve mental fatigue while promoting relaxation. It is also TRU-ID® certified to guarantee ingredient authenticity.
Individuals over the age of 50 may have increased barriers to maintaining sound mental health, and mood imbalance is not a part of the aging process. Therefore, it is important to consider the lifestyle, nutritional, and supplemental actions that your customers can implement to support their mental health as they age.
- Canadian Coalition for Seniors Mental Health. Depression in Older Adults. https://ccsmh.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/ccsmh_depressionBooklet.pdf. Accessed May 31, 2021.
- American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry (2008). Geriatrics and mental health—the facts. Available at: http://www.aagponline.org/prof/facts_mh.asp Accessed May 31, 2021
- Lemay V, Hoolahan J, Buchanan A. Impact of a yoga and meditation intervention on students’ stress and anxiety levels. American journal of pharmaceutical education. 2019 Jun 1;83(5).
- Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EM, Gould NF, Rowland-Seymour A, Sharma R, Berger Z, Sleicher D, Maron DD, Shihab HM, Ranasinghe PD. Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA internal medicine. 2014 Mar 1;174(3):357-68.
- Health Link, BC. Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/uz2255#:~:text=Deep%20breathing%20is%20one%20of,this%20message%20to%20your%20body. Accessed May 31, 2021.
- Rao TS, Asha MR, Ramesh BN, Rao KJ. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian journal of psychiatry. 2008 Apr;50(2):77.
- Kadariya S, Gautam R, Aro AR. Physical activity, mental health, and wellbeing among older adults in South and Southeast Asia: a scoping review. BioMed research international. 2019 Nov 17;2019
- Gautam M, Agrawal M, Gautam M, Sharma P, Gautam AS, Gautam S. Role of antioxidants in generalised anxiety disorder and depression. Indian journal of psychiatry. 2012 Jul;54(3):244.
- Tucker K. Nutrition concerns for aging populations. In Providing Healthy safe foods as we age. Workshop summary 2010 (pp. 87-108).
- Janz T, Pearson C. Vitamin D blood levels of Canadians. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82624-x. Accessed June 15, 2020 at: https://www.150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-624- x/2013001/article/11727-eng.htm