Category Archives: Aging
For many women, turning fifty is a milestone. It might be a time of transformation: from children leaving the family home to career shifts, or finding a new approach to your health and well-being.
You might notice that your body changes when you hit fifty. Staying up late and traveling, for example, might affect you differently than they used to. But your fifties and beyond can be a time of vibrant health and fulfillment.
Read on to learn about the main health concerns for women over fifty, plus which natural supplements should be on your radar.
What are the main health concerns for women over 50?
For women over fifty, one of the main health concerns is the transition of menopause. Altered hormone levels that come from the end of the reproductive years can cause unpleasant symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue, and lower libido. Other health concerns as you move into this decade include heart disease and bone density. Finally, to enjoy your fifties and beyond, you want to support brain health and keep your mind sharp.
Here’s the great news: you can reclaim your health and enjoy yourself in the process. How? Address your health concerns with the right natural supplements.
Top 5 natural supplements for women over 50
Herbs for hormone balance
Medicinal herbs are widely used to support hormonal health during menopause. Herbal allies for women over fifty include black cohosh, chasteberry, dong quai, maca, and sage.
Black cohosh binds to estrogen receptors and works by affecting the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Preparations of black cohosh root have been shown to reduce hot flashes and night sweats, along with improving mood.
Chasteberry (also known as chastetree or Vitex) shifts hormone production toward more progesterone and less estrogen through its effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis. Several studies showed chasteberry to be effective in reducing breast pain and other PMS symptoms.
Dong quai is a staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has been called female ginseng for its energy and mood boosting properties. Dong quai is recommended for irregular bleeding.
Maca, a Peruvian adaptogen, benefits the endocrine and reproductive systems. Preparations made from maca root boost the production of sex hormones and increase energy and sex drive. In studies, maca supplementation was associated with a substantial reduction of menopausal discomfort in early postmenopausal women.
Finally, sage is used to alleviate hot flashes, sweating, and other menopausal symptoms as a general tonic. A clinical trial showed the efficacy of sage over a two-month treatment period.
Find these herbs as dietary supplements in such forms as a powdered whole herb, liquid extracts, and dried extracts in pill form, or a convenient all-in-one herbal blend like Meno-Prev.
Vitamins & minerals
Sufficient intake of certain vitamins and minerals is essential for thriving in your fifties and beyond. You’ll want to supplement your diet with the following: calcium and magnesium, along with vitamin D and K.
Calcium supplements help make up for lowered assimilation from food sources as you age. Calcium is needed by every cell in your body and is especially important for women over fifty to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis risk.
Working in synergy with calcium, magnesium helps promote cardiovascular health and normal blood pressure (not to mention its sweet stress-busting properties).
Fat-soluble vitamins D and K play a crucial role in calcium metabolism. Controlled trials have shown the benefits of vitamins D and K on postmenopausal osteoporosis with a study duration between 8 weeks and 3 years. Try a formula like Osteo Prolong to fill your nutritional needs.
Fiber is one of the top supplements for women over fifty, thanks to its massive amount of health benefits. Think enhanced blood sugar balance, lower cholesterol, improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, and better gut health from curbing symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, and IBS. What’s more, fiber helps regulate hormone levels during menopause. Look for a dietary fiber supplement that contains both soluble and insoluble fiber for best results.
Women over fifty become more prone to chronic, low-grade systemic inflammation. To stay healthy throughout your fifties and beyond, fighting inflammation is your go-to action plan. Try turmeric, or better yet, highly bio-available Curcumin. Curcuminoids in turmeric slow the enzymes that cause inflammation, so you can count on the time-tested Ayurvedic remedy to keep you feeling healthy.
Keep your mind sharp and curb depression and memory loss with natural supplements like gingko biloba. Clinical trials have shown the beneficial effects of gingko biloba on cognitive function (especially concentration and memory). Try the Mind-Pro formula to fuel your brain as you enter what can be the best years of your life.
You probably don’t think about them too much, except maybe which polish colour to choose next? But, you would be surprised what those little keratinized extensions of our fingertips (your fingernails) can tell us about our nutrition, and our health status overall.
Naturopaths often include an examination of a patient’s nails as part of their routine health evaluations. Signs on the nails may be an indication of certain conditions or deficiencies. However, it is not a definitive diagnosis without also looking at many other aspects of an individuals health in order to get the most informed view and create a holistic treatment plan.
What’s considered normal differs in everyone, but generally, fingernails should be clear, smooth, pliable and peachy-pink in colour.
There are numerous conditions that can affect the nails – too many to mention here, but in many cases, it is a nutritional deficiency that may be causing your nails’ odd appearance. However, it may also be that your body is not effectively absorbing nutrients or you may even be low in stomach acid – vital to digestion.
The 5 nail health signs to watch out for
Ever noticed white spots on your nails? While this is most often due to mild trauma (like nicking your nail), it can also indicate a zinc deficiency.
Zinc is found in such foods as oysters, red meat (especially lamb), legumes, nuts, egg yolks, oats, pumpkin seeds, green leafy vegetables, and cocoa or dark chocolate.
Lack of Vitamin C can cause pesky and often painful hangnails. Vitamin C-rich foods are citrus, berries, mango, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, and leafy greens.
Horizontal lines, ridges and spoons
What about horizontal lines or ridges across your nails? Sometimes called Beau’s lines – these may also be due to a zinc deficiency but could be indicative of low iron or anemia. Nails can be spoon-shaped at the tips with iron deficiency as well.
To pump more iron into your day, try spinach and other dark leafy greens like kale. Also, red meat, liver, egg yolks, beans, shellfish, dried fruit and blackstrap molasses – are all good sources.
It’s a good idea to pair those iron-rich foods with sources of Vitamin C for better absorption.
Example: fresh spinach and strawberry salad, topped with lean chicken for extra protein – also vitally important for healthy looking nails.
Dry, brittle and peeling
Dry, brittle, thin or peeling nails? Could just be dry nails, but possibly a lack of protein, Vitamin D &/or B Vitamins in your diet.
Food sources of Vitamin D are limited as it’s naturally attained by exposing your skin to sunlight, hence being dubbed the Sunshine Vitamin. However, fish, liver and egg yolks are reasonable sources, as well as many fortified Dairy products.
Be sure to incorporate Vitamin B-rich foods into your diet as well, such as whole grains like brown rice and oats, eggs, yogurt, milk and cheese, poultry, lamb, mushrooms, pumpkin, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower and many types of beans.
No half moons?
Ever noticed the lighter-toned half-moons at the base of your fingernail? Or perhaps you haven’t noticed them because they’re absent!
This is usually due to a Vitamin B12 deficiency and is associated with anemia. Vegetarians often have trouble attaining enough B12 as it’s found primarily in animal foods, so they’re encouraged to sprinkle cheesy-tasting nutritional yeast onto foods – or supplementation may be prudent.
As always, getting your full complement of nutrients is encouraged through whole food sources, but sometimes our diet just isn’t meeting all of our needs and this is where supplementation may be necessary – for all of the reasons we discussed in the article “Nutrient Deficiencies: Why Nearly Everyone Has Them!”
Check your nails weekly for something that may be out of the “norm” for you and inform your health practitioner. Be sure to discuss what nutritional deficiencies, digestion and/or absorption issues may be a contributing factor to the problem.
Health Canada advises, along with many nutrition professionals, “that a healthy and balanced diet can provide most people with the nutrients essential for good health.” 
Does that mean that if we eat a “healthy and balanced diet”, that we’ll be meeting all the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) and we’ll be safe from nutritional deficiency?
Or do some of us follow this recommendation and still have a nutrient deficiency – and not even know it?
According to the latest Health Canada Community Survey (June 2017), Canadians as a population are not as well nourished as we may think.
Fruit and vegetables contain a range of beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and other phytochemicals. Consumption of at least 5 servings per day is linked with a reduced risk of various diseases, including cancers and heart disease. 
Therefore, fruit and vegetable consumption is considered a healthy behaviour, and a good indication of the overall diet and nutritional quality of a population.
However, in data from the 2017 survey, less than a third (30.0%) of Canadians aged 12 and older reported that they ate the recommended number of servings.
Given the rather significant shortfall in Canadians reaching their “5-a-day”, it’s not surprising that there are a number of nutrients reported to be lacking in our diets.
With the overall lack of adequate fruit and vegetable servings, along with soil depletion, over-processing of food, and treated water…well, it’s no wonder that many of us are lacking in a number of key nutrients that we once attained easily and ought to supplement.
For example, today you would have to eat 4 carrots to get the full amount of Magnesium available that was in just one carrot 80 years ago. Unfortunately, you’re not eating your grandmother’s carrots anymore!
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps maintain normal vision and keeps your immune system, skin, and eyes functioning at their best.
More than 35% of Canadians age 19 and over consumed vitamin A in quantities below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR). 
Carotenoids, such a beta carotene, are converted into vitamin A in the body, and it gives fruits and vegetables their orange, red and yellow colour (such as pumpkin, carrots and bell peppers).
It is also found in dark green leafy vegetables; with liver, dairy, eggs, and fatty fish also being good sources of Vitamin A.
A nutrient that is commonly found in plant foods, but also commonly lacking in our diets, is Magnesium.
This multi-tasking mineral is involved as a cofactor for a range of biochemical reactions in the body including nerve and muscle function, protein synthesis and blood glucose control.
It is also involved in the structural development of bone and plays a role in nerve impulse conduction, maintaining a normal heart rhythm and muscle contraction.
Evidence suggests that 34% of Canadians over the age of 19 consumed magnesium in quantities below the EAR. 
Magnesium is found mostly in whole grains, legumes, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables. Milk and yogurt contain some magnesium as well.
Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body, provides the structure and rigidity of bones and teeth. It is also important for proper muscle function, hormone secretion, and nerve transmission. 
It was reported that there’s an increasing prevalence of calcium inadequacy with older age.
Calcium is found in dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, fish with soft bones and fortified products.
Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of Calcium from the gut, and for supporting optimal bone health. It is also thought to play a role in immune function, healthy skin, and muscle strength.
While our bodies can make vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, during the fall and winter months, and in northern climates, where sunlight hours are limited, it can be hard to get enough of this critical nutrient, and vitamin D deficiency can become (and is becoming) more prominent.
While about 80% of the adult Canadian population are not getting the vitamin D they need from dietary sources , available clinical measures do not suggest widespread Vitamin D deficiency in the Canadian population.  
The major food sources of Vitamin D are foods that have been fortified or through supplementation.
So, how do we get all the nutrients we need?
We’ve always recommended, first and foremost, that people strive to meet their nutritional requirements through eating a varied diet with a foundation of whole and unprocessed foods.
But, as we’ve established, for various reasons it’s apparent that many of us may not be getting all the nutrients we need for optimal health.
Lack of nutrient bioavailability, poor dietary choices, restricted diets, food sensitivities, various health conditions (such as gastrointestinal disorders and poor absorption), some medications and age can all play a part in an individual’s ability to meet their recommended dietary intakes.
To determine whether or not you are at risk of a nutritional deficiency, it is important to discuss your concerns with a naturopathic doctor, a qualified nutrition professional or another healthcare provider.
In many situations, as we’ve discussed here, where diet alone is unable to meet your recommended nutrient requirements, therapeutic supplementation may be a good option.
Referenced Studies & Content
 Statistics Canada: Canadian Community Health Survey, June 2017 – Nutrition: Nutrient intakes from food and nutritional supplements
 Statistics Canada: Health Fact Sheets. Fruit and Vegetable consumption
 Health Canada: Do Canadian Adults Meet Their Nutrient Requirements Through Food Intake Alone?
 Health Canada: Vitamin D and Calcium: Updated Dietary Reference Intakes
 Health Reports, March 2010: Vitamin D status of Canadians as measured in the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey
 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011: The vitamin D status of Canadians relative to the 2011 Dietary Reference Intakes: An examination in children and adults with and without supplement use
Your mind is one of the most valuable assets that you have. It is extremely complex! The brain can change, learn and unlearn via neuronal connections, firing and wiring every day. Though we have come to understand the brain’s function much better, there are still many aspects of this fascinating organ that are unknown to researchers and neuroscientists to this day.
In order to keep this organ healthy and functioning optimally, it must be provided with nutrients. Medicinal herbs can be a great way to boost brain function, help heal, improve physiology, manage conditions and get you back on track nutritionally from previous heart problems that may have affected the brain’s function.
CanPrev’s Mind Pro is a fantastic formula for improving your brain health and contains the following nutrients:
Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid which help keep levels of homocysteine low, may help reduce irritation and clot formation that can occur inside vessels. This also helps supports proper vascular flow to the brain, which is crucial for bringing nutrients, oxygen and glucose to the brain and for removing carbon dioxide along with other metabolic wastes.
DL-Alpha lipoic acid converts glucose into a form of usable energy for the brain.
Phosphatidylserine (PS), found in soy lecithin, is critical for ensuring the cell membranes are able to release neurotransmitters, which is how cells communicate with each other.
Choline is another substance in this formulation that allows for the production of acetylcholine which easily used in the brain to help with memory and also recovery from degenerative or vascular dementia.
Bacopa is an herb that increases the communication between neurons; to make sure they are signaling thus, allowing information to flow between each neuron to help improve long-term memory.
Ginkgo is another medicinal herb that dilates the blood vessels and decreases clot formation, to ensure smooth blood flow.
The complex cells in the brain, neurons, need to be protected from free radical damage that can be caused by chemicals, smoking, alcohol, fried foods, pesticides and toxins in the environment.
Maintaining the integrity of the blood vessels with antioxidants is important to reduce plaque build up. This allows smooth blood flow and stimulates the production of neurotransmitters that are important for a healthy brain. It is easy to obtain a powerful dose of daily antioxidants through use of CanPrev’s Antioxidant Network.
It contains coenzyme Q10, n-acetylcysteine, zinc, selenium, dl-alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin E and green tea extract. This combination provides an army full of substances that give one of their electrons over to these free radical molecules to make them stable. When they are stable, they are not damaging cells, trying to steal their electrons or continuing the cascade of instability.
Overall, cell membranes are protected, blood vessels flow normally and inflammation is reduced.
Of course, there are other aspects of health that play a role in keeping our minds sharp. Proper nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress and our thoughts all play a factor.
Our focus habits may also have an effect on our brain. Multi-tasking, may not benefit us like we think it does. Your mind may function best when focused on one single moment at a time. Constant distractions and switching between tasks may cause reduce long-term memory and wreak havoc on our minds.
This increasingly is a concern as our smartphones, become our handheld portable internet, email, social media and texting alert hotspots. The more interruptions, the more productivity and long-term memory decline.
Studies have shown that constant multi-tasking can decrease overall productivity, increase mistakes and reduces long-term memory and creativity.
Turning notifications off, mute, or a different setting can reduce this constant source of interrupting that can make you feel like you are being pulled in too many different directions, stressed, anxious, and feel like your memory is failing.
Every February an abundance of red and pink heart shapes fill the media! This year, maybe these Valentines Day tributes can act as a kind reminder to take a look at our own hearts health.
Whether you have a strong family history of heart disease or not, striving to take care of this very important organ — is an essential part of having a ‘prevention policy’ for your own life.
Certain nutrients are very important for a properly functioning heart. One of these major nutrients is essential fatty acids, specifically omega 3s.
The typical North American diet currently provides plenty of omega 6 essential fatty acids (also known as linoleic acid). These fatty acids can come from fried foods, crackers, cookies and other snacks. Too much of these foods can leave us in an inflammatory state, so balancing the effects of too many omega 6 fatty acids is a must for keeping your heart healthy. The anti-inflammatory action of omega 3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid), is a great start to doing just that!
They are called essential fatty acids because the body is incapable of making them on its own, so it is essential that they are obtained them from the diet or supplementation.
Small amounts of omega 3’s can be found in foods such as nuts and seeds and fatty tissues of cold water fish. But, since we often consume too many over-processed omega 6 foods — we usually do not get the amounts of omega 3’s from foods needed to balance the overconsumption of omega 6’s.
Supplementing with omega 3 essential fatty acids, provide an easy way to receive the correct daily amount of essential fatty acids. Look for a formulation that contains two types of omega 3’s; eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) derived from small wild fish.
Another beneficial effect of omega 3’s is their ability to reduce the viscosity of the blood, similar to the blood thinning effect of certain medications but without the side effect of disrupting the stomach lining. It can also have a positive effect on a healthy blood lipid profile (eg. cholesterol, LDL and HDL) by reducing plaque build-up and allowing for properly flowing blood in the vessels.
There are specific nutrients that are aimed to heal and provide the heart to work optimally.
Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) is a powerful antioxidant that gives energy to the heart muscle cells and helps to lower blood pressure and maintain healthy cholesterol. In fact, pharmaceutical treatments like statins (cholesterol-lowering medication) lower the level of Coenzyme Q10, leaving a serious deficiency of this important nutrient that is important for the whole body, not just the heart.
Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant which will relax the blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure as a result. Vitamin B12 and folate are also important for certain enzymes in the body that remove homocysteine, an inflammatory marker, from the blood. High levels of homocysteine contribute to plaque build-up causing atherosclerosis.
Many studies show that certain herbs are extremely beneficial in improving and maintaining heart health. Garlic extract helps to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels by slowing the platelet aggregation which helps to prevent heart attacks.
Grape seed extract is an extremely rich antioxidant which overall protects the integrity of the inner lining of the blood vessels.
Hawthorn extract is perhaps a little less known, but a powerhouse of an herb in its ability to interact with enzymes in the heart to increase the pumping force of the heart and eliminate arrhythmias. It dilates the coronary arteries to improve circulation and oxygen levels and it can even improve LDL and HDL levels in the blood, thus decreasing plaque build up.
CanPrev’s Healthy Heart is formulated with all of the above nutrients in therapeutic dosages to help the heart with many complex health issues, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and valve disorders.
Another supplement that was formulated with heart health in mind was Can Prev’s Magnesium + Taurine, B6 and Zinc. Now, it was created for people looking for a magnesium supplement that also provided some cardiovascular support.
Taurine acts as an antihypertensive, antiatherogenic and antioxidant to help treat coronary artery disease, ischemia, congestive heart failure and hypertension. Vitamin B6 was added to this formula because it used in the synthesis of taurine.
Remember to speak with your healthcare provider before beginging any new supplement regime.
Besides supplementation, dietary factors are of course important!
An excellent way to start a heart healthy day is with oats. They naturally contain beta-glucan which is a type of fiber that helps reduce cholesterol and boosts the immunity!
Extra virgin olive oil, in the amount of 2 tbsp per day, can help to lower overall cholesterol and improve one’s overall blood lipid profile. But, it is important to use it cold, or adding to food once it is cooked. Olive oil has a low smoking point, so frying, cooking or baking with it can burn this beneficial oil which decreases its phytochemical and antioxidant value.
Dark Chocolate (containing at least 70% cocoa) and red wine have benefits too, mainly from their antioxidant properties. But moderation, of course, is key. Even a consistent amount of exercise such as 20 minutes a day of moving your body, (like fast past walking) can help with improving your overall heart health.
We also recommend a daily dose of laughter and spreading love, to improve your own hearts happiness and wellbeing.
Bone tissue is very dynamic because it is constantly being remodeled by dissolving and replacing minerals to keep the bones healthy. Osteoporosis is a disease where the bone is dissolving and losing minerals faster than it can be replaced making the bones hollow, porous and very susceptible to fractures.
Vitamin K for directing calcium
It is common knowledge that calcium and vitamin D3 are needed for increasing bone health, both of which are fairly prevalent in North American diets. Yet magnesium, boron, zinc, vitamin K1 and K2 are equally important in proper bone maintenance to make sure calcium is directed to the bones and not deposited elsewhere in the body such as the heart.
Can Prev’s Osteo Prolong and Vitamin D3 + K2 are formulated with these nutrients so they work together synergistically in absorbable forms to help maintain bone health but also muscles, teeth and skin.
The pH balance in the body is another factor important to bone health that is not usually addressed or well known. The reason this is important is that the blood needs to stay at the pH level of 7.0-7.4. This is a very tightly regulated system in the body so if the body is undergoing an acidic state (i.e. smoking, stress, nutrient-poor diet, and pharmaceuticals etc), the body will draw from the bones to get the minerals needed that are alkaline in nature.
The alkaline nutrients that are helping to buffer the blood are calcium, potassium and magnesium, the very nutrients we want to stay in our bones!
Can Prev’s pH Pro is a formula containing sodium bicarbonate, spirulina, magnesium bicarbonate and potassium, all nutrients that are alkaline to decrease acidity and keep those precious nutrients in the bones. In each bottle of CanPrev pH Pro there are pH test strips so you can check your pH using urine or saliva. If you tend to be acidic, then start increasing your alkalinity by taking 1 or 2 caps of this formula.
Prevention – start early
The prevention of osteoporosis actually begins in childhood and adolescence to gain as much bone density as possible by the age of 20 – 30 and then to maintain that density for the rest of adulthood. Having a youth’s diet full of healthful nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin D3, K1 and K2 and zinc from a varied diet is essential in providing the building blocks for the bones to grow and be maintained.
Beverages such as soft drinks and energy drinks are popular among youth should be limited. They contain both phosphoric acid and caffeine which increase the amount of calcium lost from the bones. Caffeine causes about 6 mg of calcium to be lost for every 100mg of caffeine ingested. About 2 cups or a 16 oz of coffee contain 320 mg of caffeine which can leach about 20 mg of calcium from your body.
Processed foods are usually very high in salt, which is another substance that should be limited because every 2.3g of salt consumed about 40 mg of calcium is lost in the urine.
In adulthood multiple factors start to add up that can deplete bone minerals such physical inactivity, smoking, stress, alcohol, recreational drugs, increase of salt, caffeine and sugar, pharmaceutical drugs such as corticosteroids and proton pump inhibitors and hormonal changes in women.
Bone health for moms to be
Even pregnancy can leave the female depleted in many nutrients, as the requirement for calcium is very high due to the developing skeletal frame and formation of teeth, thus taking Can Prev’s Prenatal Multi ensures that the mother is receiving the therapeutic amounts of bioavailable calcium and vitamin D3 for the baby.
For those at risk of developing health conditions related to mineral deficiency, or those looking to increase mineral intake and absorption, speak with your natural healthcare provider about what supplements might be right for you.
Blood clotting (intravascular thrombosis, heart attacks and strokes)
Clotting is a normal response to blood vessel damage. When a blood vessel wall is damaged, tiny blood cells called platelets activate. These platelets adhere to a damaged surface and release sealing agents like fibrin. Magnesium regulates the activation of these platelets by controlling calcium levels and maintaining cell receptors. That’s why magnesium is sometimes called an anticoagulant.
Magnesium deficiencies increase the risk of unnecessary platelet activation, forming more clots in blood vessels. These clots may block blood flow to the brain or heart, increasing the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
High Blood Pressure
Besides preventing blood clots, magnesium also acts as a natural vasodilator. Magnesium, as a calcium antagonist, allows the heart muscles and the smooth muscles of the arteries to rest and relax, reducing blood pressure. If there is insufficient magnesium, these blood vessels constrict, raising blood pressure.
Magnesium’s role in maintaining healthy blood pressure has a lot to do with its ability to activate the sodium-potassium pump. Even if a magnesium deficiency occurred and a sufficient supply of potassium was available, it would likely not make it into the cell to allow for proper sodium regulation.
Like elsewhere in the body, magnesium regulates concentrations of potassium and calcium in the heart as well. These concentrations control and coordinate the rhythm of electrical signal and muscle contractions.
The Canadian Cardiovascular Society recommends that hospitals administer magnesium intravenously in order to reduce the risks of atrial fibrillation.
Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, a day when Alzheimer’s organizations across the globe concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia.
According to The Alzheimer Society of Canada, there are currently 564,000 people living with the disease. This number is expected to increase to 937,000 in the next 15 years. A few other numbers:
- If you’re a smoker, your risk of being diagnosed with dementia increases by 45 per cent
- Of those diagnosed with dementia, 65 per cent are women aged 65 or older
- There are currently 16,000 Canadians under the age of 65 living with dementia
- In Canada, 25,000 new cases of dementia are diagnosed every year
- There are 1.1 million Canadians affected directly or indirectly by the disease
- The annual cost to Canadians to care for those living with dementia is $10.4 billion
What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?
Although the terms dementia and Alzheimer’s are used interchangeably, they are indeed different. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of disorders that impairs mental functioning. This video prepared for the Alzheimer Society of Canada explains the difference.
Alzheimer’s disease is irreversible and destroys brain cells, causing thinking ability and memory to deteriorate. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging.
The effects of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal disease that affects everyone differently; there are several symptoms and changes that manifests as the disease progresses. It’s difficult to predict symptoms, the order in which they will appear, or the speed of their progression.
- Cognitive and functional abilities: a person’s ability to understand, think, remember and communicate will be affected. This could impact a person’s ability to make decisions, perform simple tasks, or follow a conversation. Sometimes people lose their way, or experience confusion and memory loss, initially for recent events and eventually for long-term events.
- Emotions and moods: a person may appear apathetic and lose interest in favourite hobbies. Some people become less expressive and withdrawn.
- Behaviour: a person may have reactions that seem out of character. Some common reactions include repeating the same action or words, hiding possessions, physical outbursts and restlessness.
- Physical abilities: the disease can affect a person’s coordination and mobility, to the point of affecting their ability to perform day-to-day tasks such as eating, bathing and getting dressed.
Alzheimer’s disease is often called a family disease, because the chronic stress of watching a loved one slowly decline affects everyone.
There are several medications that can help with symptoms such as memory decline, changes in language, thinking abilities and motor skills.
While dietary factors are complex and foods contain a balance of hundreds of nutrients, there are studies to suggest that these five may be especially important for brain health.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Other studies have shown that the oils found in fish are good not just for the heart, but for the brain as well. Oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout are particularly high in omega-3s.
- Vitamin B: There are many types of B vitamins, and all are important for nerve and brain health. B12 in particular has been shown to be protective against memory problems. After age 50, some people lose the ability to absorb B12 from foods, so supplements like CanPrev’s Synergy B™ may be recommended. B12 is found in meats and other animal foods like fish, eggs and cheese. Some cereals are fortified with B vitamins as well.
- Vitamin C: Most people know vitamin C from supplements and orange juice, but it’s also found in broccoli, red peppers, dark green vegetables, strawberries and kiwifruits.
- Vitamin D: Called the sunshine vitamin because people make it through the skin on exposure to sunlight, vitamin D levels also tend to be low in older people. Milk has added vitamin D, and it’s also found in fatty fish.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found in vegetable and nuts and seed oils, leafy greens and whole grains. CanPrev’s Antioxidant Network™ contains mixed tocopherols, a family of vitamin E compounds.