The word appetite refers to one’s desire to consume food. Maintaining a healthy appetite may not always be done with ease. At times, a decreased appetite or poor appetite has roots within the body. Having an appropriate appetite plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We have all been aware that food provides us with essential fats, nutrients, and, most importantly – energy to build formidable stamina. There are many vitamins that increase appetite along with other beneficial features.
1. Causes of Decreased Appetite
Loss of appetite begins with weakened taste perception, usually delicious food seeming unappealing.
A sudden or gradual pattern of low food intake may have caused hailing from more serious medical conditions or might be a developmental stage.
Some of the most common causes of loss of appetite in the general public are:
- Substance use/abuse
- Consuming certain medications such as Amphetamines
- Mental health conditions
- Battling cancer or undergoing treatment
Reasons for low appetite that are specific to older adults are:
- Chronic pain in certain parts of the body
- Weakened sense of smell or taste
- Decreased energy to conduct daily tasks
- Medications prescribed for specific conditions such as Parkinson’s
- Heart diseases
- Respiratory issues
- Deteriorating dental health
2. Types of Appetite Stimulants
As the term suggests, appetite stimulants are those that primarily serve the purpose of making you want to eat and increasing a lowered appetite. These also include various vitamins that increase appetite.
The principal divisions of these are:
- Corticosteroids Stimulant medications containing corticosteroids are one of the most common and are widely known to generate hunger and gain weight.
- Hormonal therapy works its way to promote weight gain.
- Central nervous system drugs contain an active ingredient termed delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, found in medical marijuana.
- Natural remedies are available in the form of alternative methods. In this case, long-chain, poly-unsaturated fish fats have been researched to be a possible natural appetite stimulant.
3. Supplements That Simulate Appetite
These are also known as appetite stimulants and have been observed to effectively increase appetite.
However, an important piece of advice that one must keep in mind is to first consult a trusted doctor. A sudden decrease in appetite has causes that may be serious in some cases. It is always the best option to get it checked out by a trained professional rather than self-diagnosing.
When it comes to vitamins that increase appetite, multivitamins with appetite-increasing properties have commonly been prescribed.
Following are a few supplements that you may be prescribed:
Zinc is one of the essential minerals our body requires. It plays a significant role in:
- Maintaining a strong immune system
- Healing wounds
- DNA and protein synthesis
- Cell division
Known to a few only, zinc is also responsible for taste and smell perception.
Zinc supplements are prescribed when there is a zinc deficiency identified in the body. Zinc deficiencies can cause weight loss along with loss of appetite. This has been more commonly found in older adults.
Zinc supplements are prescribed to be taken daily because our bodies do not have a storage system for the same.
Food items that include zinc are red meat, legumes, eggs, whole grains, green beans, dark chocolate, etc.
Vitamins that can increase appetite primarily include the vitamin B family.
Vitamin B deficiency begins with:
- An apparent loss of appetite
- Neurological symptoms
- Difficulty thinking
This consequently also causes drastic weight loss. In such a case, Vitamin B1 supplements are prescribed.
The entire group of vitamins that increase appetite under the category of Vitamin B has different functions. These are:
- B2, also known as Riboflavin, has the purpose of converting food into energy and also plays the role of an antioxidant
- Vitamin B3, also known as Niacin, helps in DNA production, smooth functioning of the metabolism, and cellular signaling
- Vitamin B7, also known as Biotin, helps in regulating gene expression and metabolizes carbohydrates and fats
- Amino acids are metabolized by Vitamin B9 (Folate) and Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine).
3.3. Fish Oil
Fish oil encompasses one of the essential types of healthy fats known as Omega 3 fatty acids. Along with the body, these fats also enhance brain health by dealing with depression, helping ease anxiety symptoms, and keeping eyesight strong.
This is also termed under vitamins that increase appetite due to the presence of vitamin D.
Other than these, these have much more benefits ranging from more categories, including skin quality, heart health, and more.
Although not a very common supplement for enhancing appetite, fish oil is sometimes advisable for older adults as an appetite stimulant.
Commonly used for treating symptoms of the common cold flu, Echinacea is a herb known to show effectiveness in strengthening the immune system.
Only recently, several people have started to find its benefits even in stimulating hunger and gradually normalizing food intake. Echinacea is present in certain dietary supplements and teas, specifically the ingredient.
4. Other Medications
Other than vitamins, certain medications other than supplements are also prescribed when it comes to overcoming poor appetite.
The following are approved by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to stimulate appetite:
Megestrol, also known as Megace is a chemically available progestin. Progestin is a synthetic form of a naturally existing hormone called progesterone.
It can also be prescribed to children.
However, an important detail to remember is that this is a synthetic hormone and will have a high possibility of causing hormonal side effects along with some possibility of blood clots.
Dronabinol, also known as Marinol, is a cannabinoid medication. Cannabinoid medications are those that are extracted from cannabis. These act specifically on the cannabinoid receptors present in the brain.
It essentially helps people with cancer who feel nauseated by easing the symptoms. It also plays a significant role in stimulating the appetite of people diagnosed with HIV.
Similar to Megestrol, Oxandrolone is a synthetic derivative of testosterone, another naturally existing hormone. It somewhat follows the exact mechanism of anabolic steroids and helps promote weight gain.
The purpose of oxandrolone does not directly lie as an appetite stimulant but for weight gain. However, it does result in a much-increased appetite.
Oxandrolone is prescribed in the following cases:
- Persisting infections
- Severe trauma caused
Oxandrolone can also cause severe side effects in some cases, such as increasing cholesterol and consequently thickening the arteries.
5. Other Ways to Stimulate Appetite
Other than supplements and vitamins that increase appetite, there are plenty of lifestyle changes that people can opt for to boost their appetite. These include various ways to create small but impactful changes.
5.1. Bring in Variations
Following a monotonous diet can get boring. Eating the same meal every day and following the same meal schedule can get quite dull, directly causing you to get fed up eating meals.
Hence, as a standard solution, trying out newer and, most importantly, nutritious foods is the way to go. This does not mean that you increase the intake of junk foods. Make sure you attempt to include vitamins that include appetite.
5.2. Enhance the Experience
Yes, eating comes under the category of the list of tasks we do daily. However, it can be made so much fun by combining it with creative activities.
– invite over a friend or eat with family and put in the effort to set the table beautifully
– watch your favorite movie, web series, or any video at all that lifts your mood and gains your interest
5.3. Give It Some Time
The human body demands a set quantity of calorie intake to perform smoothly. Skipping meals hurriedly and eating lesser amounts can deem harmful to the body in the long run. With the work culture that exists now, missing out on mealtimes has been a common habit.
Make sure you eat food and maintain balanced meals to extract all the nutrients and essential vitamins that increase appetite.
If sitting peacefully for three generic meals seems like a job too difficult to carry, you can opt to gain the required dietary supplements by having smaller meals five to six times a day.
Be thorough in including healthy snacks and essential vitamins that increase appetite for the same.
5.4. Drink It Up
Preparing food with vitamins that increase appetite and other essential nutrients and also taking out time to eat it may sometimes be too difficult to fit into our schedule. In this case, you can also opt to include as many calories as a healthy meal in liquid form – smoothies and shakes.
Protein shakes and smoothies made out of healthy fruits are one of the best ways to consume specific vitamins, fight off existing vitamin deficiencies and provide you with healthy fats.
6. Loss of Appetite in Different Age Groups
A decreased appetite has reasons which vary in different age groups. The root cause for changes in a child’s appetite varies largely in adults.
6.1. Older Adults
Aging brings many ups and downs in a person’s life. Generally, older adults have clear reasons for any difficulty they face, with poor appetite being one of them. However, many factors play a role in causing that.
Healthy adults who do not need appetite stimulation usually are keen on properly managing bowel regularity, dental health, and overall good hygiene.
The other end of the age spectrum is infants and young kids. They face challenges when it comes to eating – ranging from mere pickiness to something that may need assistance from a healthcare professional.
A sudden weight loss accompanied by a low appetite demands more attention. Consult your trusted healthcare professional to help tackle this issue.
Adolescence, more commonly comprising the age group referred to as ‘teens,’ undergoes various drastic changes during this phase. These changes are spread far out into physical, emotional, and mental categories.
While some may gain or lose weight due to hormonal imbalance, there is a part that faces a daunting case of eating disorders.
At a vital age group like this, it is essential – but also challenging – to tackle nutrient deficiencies by eating a good serving of necessary nutrients regularly, getting proper exercise, and also keeping mental health in check.
7. Careful Calorie Intake
Being careful about the overall calorie intake through food consumption is necessary to maintain healthy body weight and fight back poor immune function.
However, understanding the right quantity of calorie intake takes a few factors. Some of the major ones are :
- The extent of activities done/level of activity per day
8. Get Help
Balancing a healthy diet is a lot easier said than done. Monitoring meal intake may not always be doable. Appetite loss can sometimes have more severe causes. Get immediate help in the following instances :
- Experiencing a drastic loss of appetite, which is persisting for a much longer time
- Losing a lot of weight unexplainably
- Have other accompanying symptoms such as prolonged fatigue, heavy hair loss, dizziness, frequent fainting, low muscle mass
To increase your appetite and fight back the added symptoms, a healthcare professional will deem it the best option to deal with the issue. Underlying complications need more than mere self-diagnoses.
To stimulate appetite, medically reviewed vitamins and other supplements are prescribed to the sufferer.
9. Why You Should Be Careful
Maintaining a healthy diet and an appropriate appetite containing vitamins firstly is essential for the smooth functioning of the body and its organs.
Humans can only conduct daily tasks – mental or physical when they have proper food intake and medium to light exercise.
A poor appetite that does not consist of vitamins alarmingly shows the first sign of losing weight, but this is merely the beginning if proper attention is not given.
Repeatedly going on without a balanced meal will cause one to get weak, and gradually it will make its way toward targeting your immune system. This primary system plays a massive role in protecting your body and its essential organs from threats.
A weakened immune system, accompanied by low appetite, is susceptible to health concerns.
Another central point to keep in mind is to always consult a doctor before starting a supplement or any vitamins that increase appetite after checking the underlying symptoms.