The Elderly and Nutrient Drug Interactions

Elderly persons are at a significant risk for nutrient-drug interactions. This population often takes the highest amount of medications, and with the use of multiple drugs, certain problems may exist. A loss of appetite, a reduced sense of taste and smell, and swallowing problems all may result from medication use in elderly people.

Malnutrition is a common problem among older adults. Therefore, nutritional status may be already impacted by decreased nutrient intake. This may only worsen the effect of a possible nutrient-drug interaction. Elderly people who take many drugs on a routine basis for long periods of time are at greatest risk of nutrient depletion and nutritional deficiencies.

Some drugs may affect the absorption of nutrients, while some foods—for example, those containing caffeine—can amplify or modify the effects of certain drugs. Taking drugs with hot beverages could also make them less effective. [Octane Photographic. Reproduced by permission.]

absorption: uptake by the digestive tract antibiotic: substance that kills or prevents the growth of microorganisms depression: mood disorder characterized by apathy, restlessness, and negative thoughts carbohydrate: food molecule made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, including sugars and starches fat: type of food molecule rich in carbon and hydrogen, with high energy content protein: complex molecule composed of amino acids that performs vital functions in the cell; necessary part of the diet malnutrition: chronic lack of sufficient nutrients to maintain health nutritional deficiency: lack of adequate nutrients in the diet nutrition: the maintenance of health through proper eating, or the study of same nutrient: dietary substance necessary for health diet: the total daily food intake, or the types of foods eaten energy: technically, the ability to perform work; the content of a substance that allows it to be useful as a fuel

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