Sam Bauman: Olympics stir athletic memories in senior generation



Seniors watching the Rio Olympics probably experience a bit of wistfulness as they see those beautiful bodies at serious play. They may remember back when they were not quite as splendid, but at least effortlessly mobile. So they may wish for a magic elixir to restore some of their lost skills.

They may well turn to the world of dietary supplements as an antidote to aging. But it’s a world unregulated by government agencies, making claims it cannot justify.

The Food and Drug Administration is barred by a law jammed through Congress by the supplements industry, the Dietary Supplemental Health and Education Act of 1994, which freed supplement makers of any kind of FDA study. Firms are prohibited from claiming that a supplement can cure or treat a specific disease, but hundreds do, according to a lengthy report in the September issue of Consumer Reports.

So no supper supplement is going to cure a problem. But there are some good ones:

Taking calcium bone supplements may benefit those over 50 years old. But taking vitamin D has no effect.

Vitamin B12 may help if natural levels are low.

Personal note: I take two prescribed supplements, an iron pill to improve my anemic levels, and a eye vitamins. I’ll end the iron pills soon as my anemic levels have improved. Diet can help as can serious exercise programs.

Fish oil supplement has been credit with reducing joint pains but gentle low-impact exercise works as well.

But since supplements are not tested by the FDA, more than 1,000 supplements have been, found to contain prescription or experimental drugs. So here is a list of CR ingredients to avoid:

Aconite, to reduce gout, joint pain.

Caffeine power, improves attention, weight loss, athletic performance.

Chaparral, weight loss, treats colds, infections and rashes, risks cancer, possible death.

Coltsfoot, relieves colds, sore throat, asthma, risks possibly carcinogenic.

Comfrey, relieves coughs, heavy menstrual periods, risks liver damage, career, possible death.

Germander, ease stomach problems, gout, risks liver problems.

Greater Celandine, eases stomach ache.

Green tea extract powder, weight loss, risk worsens anemia, liver damage.

Kava, improves insomnia.

Lobelia, improves breathing, aids ending smoking.

Methylsynephrine, weight loss, more energy, better athletic ability, risk heart problems.

Pennyroyal oil, improves breathing but liver and kidney failure, nerve damage, possibly death.

Red yeast rice, lowers bad cholesterol.

Using acid, weight loss, pain relief, risk liver injury

Yohimbe, treats low libido, erectile dysfunction, depression.

Well, that’s a list or components to avoid, according to CR. But some may need a supplement:

If planning on pregnancy, folic acid daily, per doctor’s specs.

Pregnant, folic acid and vitamin D, per doctor’s orders.

Strict vegan, no meat or fish, a daily B12 supplement.

Someone who rarely gets in the sun, D3 supplement.

Diagnosed with osteoporosis, vitamin D3.

Macular degeneration, AREDS can slow progression.

I checked the Internet for dietary supplements and it is a wild west listing, flea market of advertising. Shopping for supplements there could be costly and non-productive. Check it if you want a new supplement.

For me, as soon as the iron pills are gone I will drop back to my eye vitamins or AREDS. I figure I get everything I need through normal dining. Friends keep the menu varied.

Supplement label clarification

Proprietary blend means the maker combined items listed in order of amounts: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose treat, cure or prevent any disease.” Product seem useless and this warning often appears at the bottom of ads on TV, unreadable.

FDA approved facility. Meaningless, the FDA doesn’t approve facilities.

“Supports metabolism and boosts energy.” FDA forbids making statements about product claims on labels.

“All natural.” Means whatever the maker wants its to mean.

The world of supplements is wacky and doubtful of actually helping on a heathy pursuit. Don’t think it would get the user to the Rio games.

Reading for Carson seniors

Came across a copy of High Country News at the Senior Center the other day. Very interesting for those of us in high country. Lots of conservation news and what’s going on in our high plains. Copies always left at Senior Center.

Quote: “It’s not the first time bigoted attitudes have surfaced in the United States. Rock Springs, Wyoming, was ground zero in 1885, when hate talk spurred the murder of Chinese immigrants.”

Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.


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