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As we age, making sure our bodies receive all of the nutrients they need becomes increasingly important. As we enter our 50s and beyond, changes in the body make it more difficult to hit our daily vitamin quotas.
Though we would ideally have all of our nutritional needs met by our diets, pills and supplements are often valuable in ensuring our bodies are receiving a full spectrum of nutrients.
Is your daily diet packed with vitamins and minerals, or is there some room for improvement? Consider making the following dietary changes and including the following supplements in your diet to keep your body going strong for years to come.
There are many reasons to keep an eye on your vitamin D intake. This crucial vitamin aids the body in absorbing calcium, preventing the onset of osteoporosis. Studies also indicate that vitamin D may reduce one’s risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and a number of autoimmune diseases. Unlike many nutrients, vitamin D isn’t primarily obtained via dietary sources; rather, the vitamin is created when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
To make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, it is generally best to take a pill or supplement, preferably in D3 form. As we age, the skin becomes less efficient at producing vitamin D. Those who live in colder, cloudier climates will also be exposed to less sunlight throughout the year, making supplements even more important. Though most foods are not naturally rich in vitamin D, cheese and eggs, as well as fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel are good sources of the vitamin. Some foods, like cereal and milk, are often fortified with vitamin D as well. In short, strive to spend a little time in the sun and add a vitamin D supplement to your pill box. Doing so will keep your bones strong and your body healthy.
Vitamin B12 is another powerful nutrient that becomes even more crucial with age. The vitamin plays a role in the creation of red blood cells and DNA and is important for promoting healthy nerve function and reducing one’s risk of developing dementia.
Though you may think you’re consuming enough vitamin B12, you still may benefit from increasing your intake. Older adults tend to have less stomach acid, reducing their ability to absorb the vitamin from dietary sources. Add a supplement to your diet and continue to consume foods rich in vitamin B12, such as meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.
As we enter our 50s and 60s, bone loss begins to accelerate. The hormonal changes that occur as a result of menopause make older women particularly susceptible to brittle bones and osteoporosis. In addition to taking a vitamin D supplement, seniors should consider adding a calcium supplement to their diets.
Paying attention to your diet can also be a great way to ensure that you’re meeting your body’s calcium needs. Strive to consume low-fat dairy, such as cheese, yogurt, and milk, to provide your body with both the calcium and the protein it needs. If you follow a dairy-free diet, eat more leafy greens like kale and broccoli, in addition to soy products, beans, nuts, and seeds. By taking a supplement and eating a calcium-rich diet, you can ensure that your bones will remain healthy and strong.
Potassium is a powerful mineral, as well as a natural electrolyte. Studies suggest that a potassium-rich diet can help lower blood pressure and reduce stroke risk. The mineral is also linked to healthy cell functioning, proper kidney function, and improved bone health and density. Unfortunately, research suggests that many older adults are not getting enough potassium on a daily basis.
The best way to boost one’s potassium intake is by adding more fruits and vegetables to one’s diet. Fruits, like bananas, oranges, and melons are excellent sources of potassium. Dried fruits, such as prunes, dates, dried apricots, and raisins are also particularly potassium-rich. Vegetables, such as leafy greens, potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, and pumpkin also contain plenty of potassium. Fish, such as tuna and cod, beans, lentils, nuts, and whole grains also contain good amounts of the mineral.
Talk to your doctor to determine whether or not you are meeting your daily potassium needs. Don’t immediately rush out to purchase a supplement; taking too much potassium can be just as dangerous as consuming too little. By eating a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables, you can likely meet your potassium goals without adding a supplement to your diet.
Magnesium benefits the body in innumerable ways. On a fundamental level, the nutrient plays a role in protein formation, gene maintenance, nervous system regulation, and more. Studies also suggest that magnesium may help prevent the onset of depression, diabetes, migraines, and other chronic health conditions. Unfortunately, it is estimated that nearly half of all Europeans and Americans are getting less than the daily recommended amount of magnesium from their diets.
Magnesium absorption naturally decreases with age. Certain medications, such as diuretics, may also lead to reduced absorption.This crucial nutrient often tends to be lost during processing, too. In addition to taking a magnesium supplement, strive to consume a diet filled with whole, fresh, and unprocessed foods, including lots of fruits and vegetables. Seeds, nuts, leafy greens, beans, and dark chocolate are just a few great natural sources of magnesium. Paying attention to this crucial nutrient will certainly benefit both your mental and physical well-being.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in protecting the heart and reducing inflammation in the body. Research suggests that omega-3s can prevent irregular heartbeats, keep the arteries clear, reduce arthritic symptoms, and lower one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Fish is the best natural source of omega-3 fats. Strive to consume fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, or sardines at least twice a week. Canned fish can be a particularly easy way to help you reach your omega-3 goals. If you’re not a fan of fish, add walnuts, flaxseed, and soy to your diet. If you feel your diet may still be lacking in omega-3, talk to your doctor about adding a supplement to your diet. To protect your brain and your heart, boost your omega-3 consumption.
Studies sometimes show mixed results regarding the use of pills and dietary supplements. In general, it is best to get as many nutrients as possible from your daily diet. Eating less-processed, nutrient-dense foods, such as low-fat dairy products, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes is perhaps the best way to support your body as you age. If possible, consult your doctor to see whether or not you are deficient in any crucial vitamins and minerals, or whether you are inadvertently taking too much of a particular supplement.
By paying attention to your nutrient consumption as you age, you can boost your mental and physical health and reduce your risk of developing certain ailments. Drink lots of water, eat a balanced diet, and take your pills! Your body will be grateful for your choices.
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