by Gina Deney
Eating right and staying fit are important no matter what your age. As we get older, though, our bodies have different needs, so certain nutrients become especially important for good health.
Calcium and Vitamin D
As we age, our bodies need more calcium and vitamin D (which promotes calcium absorption) to help maintain bone health. Shoot for three servings of vitamin D-fortified low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt each day. Other calcium-rich foods include fortified cereals and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables and canned fish with soft bones. If you take a calcium supplement or multivitamin, choose one that contains vitamin D. The added bonus? Vitamin D is also a natural mood elevator.
Vitamin B12 affects the development and maintenance of red blood cells, nerve cells, and normal myelination (covering) of nerve cells. It also aids in the production of DNA and RNA, and the production of neurotransmitters. Many people older than 50 do not get enough vitamin B12 so ask your doctor if you need a supplement. Fortified cereal, lean meat, and certain fish and seafood are great sources of vitamin B12.
Fiber has also been shown to lower your risk for heart disease, control your weight and prevent Type 2 diabetes. Eating wholegrain breads and cereals, more beans and peas, and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables can also help you to stay regular.
Increasing your potassium intake (fruits, vegetables and lowfat or fat-free milk and yogurt are good sources) while at the same time reducing sodium by selecting and preparing foods with little or no added salt may lower your risk of high blood pressure.
Foods that are low in saturated fats and trans fat help reduce your risk of heart disease. Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Check the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels for total fat and saturated fat.
Talk to Your Physician
Before implementing any dietary changes consult your doctor to discuss your specific needs and whether or not any foods might interfere with your medications or any existing health issues.
Gina Deney is president of Your Own Home In-Home Senior Care. For more information on senior care, please call her at 302-478-7081, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.yourownhomecare.com. Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Andrew Weil, MD.