Now that you’re older, you may be having a hard time tolerating summer heat, especially when the humidity is high. A new study shows that supplementing with a certain vitamin may be what you need to feel better in summer heat.
Folic Acid Helps Older People Tolerate Summer Heat
When you were a kid you could probably handle summer heat pretty well. You stayed out playing all day with your friends without a second thought. But, after age 50, you may have noticed that you don’t tolerate summer heat, especially high humidity, the way you used to.
In addition, summer heat waves also present an increased risk for heart attack and stroke in older people. A recent study out of Penn State University reveals that the 2 are related.
As you get older, your body’s blood vessels don’t have the same capacity to dilate the way they did when you were younger. That results in less blood flow getting to your heart, brain and your skin. That’s because you don’t produce the same amount of nitric oxide you did when you were younger.
The reason behind your lack of nitric oxide, and blood flow problems, could be a deficiency in folic acid that is common in older people, says Penn State researchers. So, supplementing with extra folic acid in hot, humid weather can help decrease your risk for heart attack or stroke.
Folic acid is one of the B Vitamins that are essential for the good health and function of your heart and nervous system. It works in tandem with Vitamin B12 to decrease homocysteine levels that can lead to blood clots, heart attack and stroke.
Folic acid also helps your body produce nitric oxide which dilates blood vessels. Keeping blood flowing freely allows more blood to reach the skin, which cools you down. It also reduces the chance of a clot forming and keeps blood flowing freely to your heart and brain.
Recent studies have also shown that it may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia. Its homocysteine lowering properties also fights the occurrence of mini-strokes that can lead to the development of dementia.
Older people are frequently deficient in folic acid, and the other B vitamins, from either a poor diet or from decreased absorption ability. You can get enough folic acid (folate) from many foods including fortified orange juice and cereals, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, chick peas, and brown rice.
You need about 1 mg of folic acid a day. But, as you get older, your ability to absorb nutrients from your foods decreases. So, it’s a good idea to also take digestive enzymes along with your B vitamins to ensure that you’re absorbing the amounts you’re taking.
Other Ways To Handle Summer Heat
As people get older, their ability to tolerate intense summer heat decreases. As the Penn State study shows, making sure you’re getting enough folic acid can help. There’s also some other tried and true ways that can help you like the following:
1. Stay hydrated. You need to drink more water than you normally would in intense heat. You sweat more in hot, humid weather and this causes you to lose quite a bit of body water. You can become dehydrated easily which leads to weakness, dizziness, heart palpitations, fainting, or organ damage collapse.
2. Eat more. In hot weather, you may not feel like eating much, but it’s important to eat regularly to prevent blood sugar drops and electrolyte imbalances that are aggravated with hot weather. It’s the one time you can add more table salt to your food in order to help you hold onto more body water. Eating foods that contain the basic electrolytes, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, will prevent weakness, dizziness, heart palpitations, and even kidney failure.
The proper balance of electrolytes is what keeps your major internal organs, heart, lungs, kidneys, brain functioning correctly. Sweating profusely can deplete electrolytes dramatically. Good choices are low sugar vegetable juices, like V-8, that are higher in sodium and potassium; low sugar lemonade, limeade or citrus juices which are higher in potassium; and lighter protein shakes that contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.
3. Limit caffeine, alcohol. Drinking too much caffeinated, or alcoholic, beverages in high heat and humidity can dehydrate you even faster. Both require you to urinate more frequently so that you lose even more body water. Alcohol also lowers blood sugar faster which lowers your tolerance for heat.
4. Limit exercise. When it’s extremely hot and humid, it’s best to take a day or two off from intense aerobic exercise, especially outdoors. This can lead faster to dehydration and heat exhaustion. Exercise indoors in an air conditioned room and decrease the intensity. Focus more on lighter aerobic activity like yoga or Pilates.
Summer is right around the corner and higher temperatures and humidity are on their way. Learning ways to better handle the heat now can help you avoid getting sick, or having a cardiac event.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Folic Acid May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/news/20020301/folic-acid-may-help-prevent-alzheimers
Folic Acid May Help Elderly Weather Heat Waves, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150331154742.htm
Natural Ways To Handle Heat, https://zhinengqigong.eu/index.php/en/news-a-media/health-tip/5506-natural-ways-to-handle-heat.html