In fact, pop culture tends to paint a pretty sobering picture of growing older, colored by misery, weakness, and disease.
The reality, however, is that although certain changes and diseases are more common with age, many of them are largely preventable.
Below, we’ll debunk some of the more common myths of aging to help set the record straight.
Myth: Older People Tend to be CrankyAs we age, the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin decreases,1 which can increase the risk of age-related mood problems.
So maybe there’s a little truth to this myth. However, several studies show that happiness actually increases with age.
In the United States, researchers surveyed over 350,000 people and found that individuals over the age of 50 were generally happier. Also, they were less likely to feel stress and anger.2
Scientists think this may have to do with better coping skills and more realistic expectations that tend to come along with age.
Regardless, if you need a little help in the mood department, consider looking into nutrients like SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine). It enhances the production of neurotransmitters and has been clinically shown to alleviate depressed moods.3
Myth: Dementia is a Normal Part of AgingAs we get older it is normal to be forgetful at times. Dementia, on the other hand, is not a normal part of aging.
Dementia affects memory, judgment, behavior, and even language skills. Fortunately, the majority of older people don’t develop it. In truth, only approximately 14% of Americans over the age of 71 actually have this condition.4
The bottom line is that older people can improve their memory through practical exercises, solid nutrition, and even supplementing with nutrients.
If you're looking for a memory boost, consider nutrients such as phosphatidylserine. It can help to maintain a healthy brain structure as it supports the release of acetylcholine,5 a neurotransmitter which plays a vital role in cognitive function.
In a clinical study, individuals given 300 mg of phosphatidylserine had significant improvements in learning and memory.6
Myth: Erectile Dysfunction is InevitableResearch shows approximately 10% of men will experience erectile dysfunction.7 The likelihood of this tends to increase as men get older. However, this condition is strongly associated with disease more than aging itself. One particular disease that is strongly associated with ED is heart disease.8
So is ED preventable? For the most part, the answer seems to be yes. And there are nutrients that may help to preserve sexual function as well.
For example, several studies show that pine bark extract and L-arginine support the production of nitric oxide,9 a compound needed for maintaining erections. At the conclusion of one clinical trial, more than 90% of participants using the combination achieved normal erectile function.9
Myth: Expect Weakness and Fatigue as You AgeWhile it’s true that aging often robs us of some of our energy, dramatic energy drops are usually due to disease or a sedentary lifestyle. Heart disease and hypothyroidism, for example, may lead to fatigue.
Fortunately, research shows that exercise relieves fatigue.10 It also increases the size and number of your mitochondria — the cellular organelles which produce your energy.11
As long as your doctor says you’re okay, you should consider engaging in an exercise program. If you tire easily while exercising, consider supplementing with CoQ10. It’s been clinically shown to enhance exercise endurance,12 and it also boosts cellular energy production.13
Truth is, our culture is loaded with myths about aging, many of which are not necessarily true.
What popular myth about aging do you find to be the most frustrating? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
- Neuropsychopharmacology. 1998 Jun;18(6):407-30.
- Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jun 1;107(22):9985-90. Epub 2010 May 17.
- Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2003 Dec;5(6):460-6.
- Neuroepidemiology. 2007 November; 29(1-2): 125–132.
- Neurobiol Aging. 2003 Mar-Apr;24(2):233-43.
- Aging (Milano). 1993 Apr;5(2):123-33.
- Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/erectile_disorder_impotence/hic_erectile_dysfunction_overview.aspx. Accessed November 15th, 2012.
- Eur Heart J. 2006 Nov;27(22):2632-9. Epub 2006 Jul 19.
- J Sex Marital Ther. 2003 May;29(3):207-13.
- Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2011 Feb 4;131(3):231-6.
- J Physiol Pharmacol. 2008 Dec;59 Suppl 7:5-18.12. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008 Mar 4;5:8.
- PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33712. Epub 2012 Mar 14.
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