8 Nutritional Supplements to Reduce Dementia Caregiver Stress
Caregivers experience some of the highest levels of stress of any profession, and family caregivers are no exception. Caring for a person with dementia is physically and emotionally demanding, and those offering care often place their own well-being on the backburner.
But what you need to realize is that caring for yourself and making sure you stay healthy is critical, as it allows you to offer the best care and avoid “caregiver burnout” in the long run.
Common struggles many caregivers experience include:
- Higher levels of depression
- Risk of injuries due to lifting and moving the person
- Working long hours and regularly becoming exhausted
- Excessive stress levels
While it may be the last thing on your mind when you’re feeling stressed, good nutrition is one of the best ways to improve your life as a caregiver. If you can, reduce your intake of fast food and junk food. Instead, buy healthy food in bulk, and take advantage of the benefits of eating organic frozen fruits and vegetables that are high in nutritional value. Bringing healthy meals and snacks to work or when you’re out running errands is also a good idea, as this provides the resources your body needs to work at an optimal level.
While making better food choices is the first step to better health, the way food is grown, processed, and prepared in our modern society makes it virtually impossible to get all the necessary nutrients from food alone. Adding some basic nutritional supplements can be a wise move, and the list below includes some great starters (always talk to your doctor before you add any supplements to your routine):
- Multi-vitamin and minerals - This supplement type provides a nutritional base that everyone needs in order for cells to perform their everyday duties.
- Vitamin B Complex – When we experience high levels of stress and emotional challenges, the B vitamins that are found in a typical multi-vitamin are often not enough. To better tackle stress and reduce your risk of asthma, allergies, mood swings, exercise and immune protection, you may want to take a Vitamin B Complex with your evening meal.
- Fish oil - Omega 3 oils make cells softer, repair damaged cells, reduce inflammation and improve cellular communication. Scientific evidence points to proven benefits for heart and brain health, cancer prevention, as well as the risk reduction and treatment of Multiple Sclerosis. The recommended dose for most people is 1000 mg of EPA and DHA combined.
- Magnesium - This mineral plays a key role in many biochemical reactions in the body, such as transporting glucose and insulin into cells to make energy, and to help maintain a proper acid/alkaline balance. (A pH balance of 7.0-7.4 helps your body to prevent chronic disease, and getting glucose into the cells helps with weight management and the prevention of diabetes.) Magnesium is key to heart and brain health due to its crucial role in energy production. The recommended dose for most people is about 400 mg near bedtime.
- Vitamin C - This is a very powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, which cause many chronic diseases (such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s). Free radicals (such as pollution, smoking, fried foods, etc.) have a missing electron, and vitamin C makes up for it with an extra electron that it can use to neutralize these free radicals. The recommended dose for most people is 1500 to 2000 mg of vitamin C spread out during the day.
- Vitamin D3 - This amazing vitamin/hormone is the strongest genetic regulator that we have available. That means that high levels of vitamin D3 (50-90 ng/ml) can turn off the genetic predisposition to many diseases, including cancer. Studies have shown that high levels can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 77%, and prostate cancer by 83%. Vitamin D3 is also the best-known nutrient for the prevention of the flu. Men need about 2000 IU per day and women need about 4000 IU per day.
- Zinc - This mineral regulates communication between brain cells and the hippo-campus, which, allows for good learning and memory maintenance. It is also a co-factor with over 300 enzymes necessary to make DHA and protein, as well as assist in cell signaling and the cell division (replacement) process. If cells are not properly replaced they become damaged and eventually die prematurely.
- Co-enzyme Q10 - This enzyme is very difficult to get from food alone. It is crucial for energy production in every cell and for protection of the DNA in our cells.
As mentioned earlier, we always recommend talking to your doctor before you add any supplements to your routine. But we can’t stress enough how important it is for you as a caregiver to take care of yourself, and adding some simple nutritional supplements can greatly help your body combat caregiving stress.
Not only can your health improve, but having you feel better is likely to have a significant positive impact on the relationship and quality of care you provide for your person living with dementia.