As England enters its third national lockdown, there’s never been a better time to consider your health and brush up on the latest studies and research in the field of nutrition. This week’s Nutrition News covers the latest research papers and gives an insight into the future of what diet and nutrition could look like.

Supporting healthy ageing

Getting older is a part of life but one article points out that far too many “health foods” and supplements are marketed towards millennials and generation Z when, instead, the health sector should be focusing on an older demographic. It is predicted that, by the year 2030, as many as 44 countries around the world will have an ageing population, 20% of which will be over the age of 65. This article by NutraIngredients argues that it is not enough to be living longer but that there should be a greater focus on health and diets in older people to ensure a healthy quality of life.

As ageing is linked with changes in the body that can make us more prone to nutrient deficiencies, such as worsened absorption of vitamin B12 as a result of reduced stomach acid, it is important to consider the ageing population as we develop new products in the adult nutrition space.

The areas of particular focus for adult nutrition, according to the article, are immune system support, joint and bone health, muscle, cognitive support, heart health, skin health, eye health and digestive support.

The article, which covers recommendations on healthy ageing by Barclays, suggests there’s even room for ageing nutrition in the grocery sector where, much like “vegan or baby products” have evolved onto supermarket shelves, they believe there is the potential for grocery aisle products to cater to this growing demographic.

Nutrients for sleep support

Many people have reported that they are struggling to get a good night’s sleep recently with the global pandemic affecting stress management and anxiety, which can have a disastrous impact on sleep.

This article by Natural Products Insider suggests that more and more people are using food supplements to support their sleep and mental health, not just their immune systems and physical health, during the pandemic. The article references the results of the 2020 CRN Consumer Study that showed that 14% of food supplement users took supplements for sleep support and 13% took supplements to support their mental health. The article goes on to highlight ingredients that have been at the centre of ongoing research in the sleep management and mental health sectors, such as melatonin, magnesium, valerian, ashwagandha and lemon balm.

While it is important to point out that much of the research on these ingredients and the role they play in sleep support and mental health is ongoing, it would appear that the general public are increasingly using such supplements as part of their general health and wellbeing.

Why folic acid is important for men

Folic acid, or folate, is widely known to be vitally important to women thinking of conceiving but fewer people may know that it is also a nutrient that is important for men. This article by Healthline looks at some of the benefits of folic acid and how it might support men’s health specifically.

Much as we reported in a previous Nutrition News article, folic acid is the synthetic manmade form of folate, which is vitamin B9. Because the body doesn’t make folate, you need to obtain it from your diet, which can be done through the consumption of kale, spinach, beef liver, avocado, broccoli, rice, eggs and bread. It is particularly important for pregnant women as it helps the foetus grow and develop but, for men and women alike, it plays a role in making and repairing DNA, assisting cell division and healthy cell growth, producing and maturing red blood cells and converting homocysteine to methionine.

There is research that suggests that folate may also play a role in supporting mood in men as well as heart health and hair growth, although further research is needed.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is Director and Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.