Defy The Aging Process! Stay Healthy as you Age, Arm Your Body With Its Best Line Of Defense: Nutrition!
The right nutrition can defy the aging process in many ways. First, nutrients help to prevent disease! Second, the right nutrition supports the body's ability to remain strong, vital and in good shape no matter your age!
Eating right is key to staying healthy, and as we age nutrient needs change from what you may have needed in your younger years.
Key vitamins and minerals are needed for skin health, to protect from the top killers of women, such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke, as well as managing symptoms of menopause.
The 17 Key Nutrients You Need To Know About To Stay Healthy As You Age
Daily Requirement: 1200 mg
Calcium is essential for strong bones, which helps to prevent osteoporosis. Additionally, calcium builds strong teeth, improves the body's clotting function, and helps maintain a regular heartbeat.
Foods rich in calcium include:
Fish: Sardines, Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Perch
Calcium fortified foods including oatmeal, cereals and orange juice
Daily Requirement: Age 50 to 70: 600 IU; Age 71 and older: 800 IU
Vitamin D helps prevent osteoporosis by supporting the absorption of calcium, which helps keep your bones strong. It also maintains brain and mental health, and reduces the risk of depression. Vitamin D can also help control blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
It may play an important role in diminishing inflammation, as well as protecting the body against various chronic disease.
Getting enough vitamin D is easy if you spend at least 10 to 15 minutes in the sun every day; you can also get it from your diet as well as vitamin supplements.
Foods rich in Vitamin D:
Fatty fish, such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon
Vitamin D fortified foods, such as cereals, dairy products, orange juice, and soy milk
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Daily Requirement: 1.2 mg
Vitamin B1, or thiamine is needed for brain and nerve cell health, it also assists the body in converting food to energy.
Caution: certain diuretics and antacids may lower levels of thiamine in the body by decreasing its absorption and by increasing its secretion through urination.
Foods rich in Thiamine:
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Daily Requirement: 14 mg
Vitamin B3 is needed for appropriate digestion and nervous system functioning. It supports the skins ability to retain moisture, which helps the body fight against viruses, bacteria, toxins and foreign substances.
Niacin also helps the skin slough off dead cells, allowing for newer cells to surface for more radiant and younger looking skin.
Vitamin B3 helps the body convert food to energy. It also helps to raise good cholesterol (HDL), while reducing levels of the bad type (LDL), which helps decrease the risks of heart disease, stroke and atherosclerosis.
Foods rich in Niacin:
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Daily Requirement: 1.5 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) helps keep the brain healthy and functioning at its best. It also plays a crucial role in the metabolic process and how the body turns food into energy by helping break down proteins and maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. Inadequate Vitamin B6 intake in adults over the age of 50 can lead to impaired immune function, cognitive function decline and depression.
Foods rich in Vitamin B6:
Nuts and Seeds
Daily Requirement: 2.4 mcg
Vitamin B12 helps in the production of red blood cells and DNA (the genetic material in all cells). It also helps maintain healthy nerve function and aids in the metabolic process. It's essential for brain and blood cell health. Some studies show that vitamin B12 can boost concentration levels, improve memory loss and uplift your mood and energy levels.
One major concern is that as many as 1/3 of people over the age of 50 are unable to absorb it from their diet, which can lead to neurological and balance issues. Also, the use of certain mediations which are often taken by older people, such as Metformin and Omeprazole, interfere with how Vitamin B12 is absorbed and metabolized by the body.
Foods rich in Vitamin B12:
Daily Requirement: 400 mcg
Folic Acid, or vitamin B9 reduces the risk of anemia, helps build a healthy brain and spinal cord as well as create red blood cells. It also helps with the production of both DNA and RNA, which are the cells' building blocks, as well as building new tissue. Folic acid helps prevent the changes in DNA that can lead to cancer.
Studies have shown folate acts similar to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which can help ease menopause related hot flashes by interfering with the monoamine neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine.
Foods rich in Folic Acid:
Dark leafy vegetables
Black beans, Kidney beans
Daily Requirement: 90 mcg
Vitamin K helps with the process of blood clotting as well as reducing the risk of heart disease. It's also important for building and maintaining strong bones. It is important to note that Vitamin K also interferes with blood thinner medications, so be sure to consult your Doctor before taking Vitamin K supplements.
Foods rich in Vitamin K:
Daily Requirement: 75 mg; smokers need 110 mg
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps improve and prevent the damage brought upon by free radicals. It also helps heal wounds, aids in the production of red blood cells, and boosts the levels of a brain chemical called noradrenaline, which helps you stay focused and alert. Vitamin C also promotes healthy gums and teeth, facilitates the absorption of iron by the body, and helps maintain a healthy immune system. As we age, vitamin C also helps support healthy eyes.
If applied directly to the skin, it helps protect your skin against the harmful effects of the sun. It also gives your skin a more youthful look by improving the production of collagen, the building block of firm, radiant skin.
Foods rich in Vitamin C:
All Citrus fruits
Daily Requirement: 700 mcg
The aging process makes it increasingly important to increase your antioxidant intake in order to maintain healthy cells, protect against inflammation, and to keep your skin healthy and youthful. Vitamin A is crucial for health bones, a healthy immune system, and eyesight.
When applied topically, face creams with Vitamin A (Retinol), help to reduce the signs of sun damage, dark under eye circles, and fine lines and wrinkles.
Foods rich in Vitamin A:
Dark leafy vegetables
Daily Requirement: 15 mg
Vitamin E is an important fat soluble antioxidant that helps to neutralize the harmful after effects of fat oxidation. It also helps halt the production of free radicals that contribute to chronic disease and aging. Vitamin E also helps promote a healthy immune system. In addition, studies are researching its possible role in helping to prevent degenerative dementia conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease.
Studies have shown it to help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis by lowering LDL levels. It may also protect your body against the spread of cancer cells by neutralizing the harmful effects of free radicals and may also protect your from heart disease.
Caution: Talk to your Doctor if you take blood thinners, as Vitamin E supplements can increase bleeding risks.
Foods rich in Vitamin E:
Daily Requirements: 320 mg
More than 350 enzyme systems require magnesium in order to function properly, including maintaining a healthy heart, strong bones, metabolism, healthy functioning of nerves and muscles, and regulation of blood pressure and blood glucose level, as well as helping to maintain a healthy heart rhythm. It also helps with the absorption of calcium in the body as well as the possibility of helping to prevent type 2 diabetes. For women in particular, it reduces the risks of high blood pressure.
Foods rich in Magnesium:
Dark leafy greens
Daily requirement: 4700 mg
Potassium is a mineral that is crucial for optimal muscle, heart, kidney, and nerve function. Also, potassium works with sodium to help maintain the body's water balance.
It keeps bones strong, helps maintain healthy cell function, and regulates blood pressure levels. It helps reduce the risk of kidney stones, regulates digestion, aids in metabolism, boost energy, and decreases muscle spasms.
In aging especially, this mineral can help reduce the risks for heart disease, which is the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States, and it also plays a role in stroke prevention.
Foods rich in Potassium:
Potatoes with skin
Daily Requirement: 8 mg
Research published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry reports that zinc deficiency can develop with age, and may lead to weakened immunity. It may also promote inflammation, which is known to trigger aging and chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Ask your Doctor to assess whether you should be taking a supplement.
Zinc also helps to maintain a sense of taste and smell. It aids in wound healing and some studies have shown a combination of antioxidants and zinc might reduce the risk for age related macular degeneration.
Foods rich in Zinc:
Daily Requirement: 8 mg
Iron is an important mineral found in the red blood cells of the human body, which transport oxygen. Iron deficiency can lead to a condition known as anemia, where there is a reduction in healthy levels of red blood cells. Iron also lowers the risks for certain diseases and promotes healthy immunity.
Foods rich in Iron:
Beef and Chicken Liver
Dark green leafy vegetables
Dried Fruit, especially apricots and raisins
Iron fortified bread, pasta and cereals
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are monounsaturated healthy fats.
Marine forms contain EPA( eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and are found in oily fish.
Plant forms contain ALA or alpha-linoleic acid and are found in plant based foods, including oils, seeds and nuts.
EPA AND DHA can lower elevated triglyceride levels, which reduce the risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids lower bad LDL cholesterol and elevate good HDL cholesterol. These fats also help reduce risk factors for cancer.
Consuming more omega-3 fatty acids helps with menopause related mood swings and may help prevent depression and depressive symptoms.
Omega 3's may also help sharpen brain function. EPA and DHA found in fish oil helps relieve joint pain and stiffness in those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. These nutrients also boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
ALA helps reduce inflammation and may help prevent chronic disease, including arthritis and heart disease, though ALA is not nearly as potent as the marine sources of omega-3's, EPA and DHA.
While no final conclusions have been made, some promising research exists that omega-3 fatty acids may help protect against dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and age related gradual memory loss.
Good sources of EPA and DHA:
Experts recommend two servings of fish per week
Wild caught Salmon
Good sources of ALA:
Enjoy healthy fats, in moderation, daily
Olives and Olive Oil
Walnuts and Walnut Oil
Avocados and Avocado Oil
Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil
Enjoy vegetables liberally
Daily Requirement: 21 grams
While digestive health and regularity are probably its most known benefit, fiber offers additional key benefits for good health, especially when it comes to aging. Fiber helps to reduce the risks of developing type-2 diabetes and studies have also shown fiber to help lower blood pressure.
Fiber keeps you full longer, so you eat less, which helps support a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is key as we age in avoiding many chronic diseases that result from obesity, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and joint issues, just to name a few.
According to research compiled from the Blue Mountains Eye Study by Professor Bamini Gopinath (Westmead Institute for Medical Research Center for Vision Research) there is new evidence that fiber supports and promotes what researchers dubbed as "successful aging", which they defined as "the absence of brain impairment, depression, disability, respiratory problems, cancer, coronary artery disease, and stroke.
The study examined more that 1,600 adults ages 50 and older and focused on exploring the relationship between the intake of carbohydrates in diet and healthy aging. Factors examined included total fiber intake, total carb intake, glycemic load and sugar intake. The study found that fiber intake made the greatest difference in "successful aging".
The researchers found that those study subjects who had the highest intake of fiber had an almost 80% greater likelihood of enjoying a long and healthy life, free from hypertension, type 2 diabetes, depression, dementia and disability throughout a 10 year follow up.
Foods rich in Fiber:
1 medium artichoke, boiled - 10.3 grams
1 cup acorn squash - 9 grams
1 cup green peas - 8.8 grams
1 cup parsnips - 7 grams
1 cup turnip greens -5 grams
1 cup brussels sprouts - 4.1 grams
1 cup broccoli - 4 grams
1 sweet potato with skin - 4 grams
1 cup collard greens or swiss chard - 4 grams
1 cup guava - 9 grams
1 cup raspberries - 8 grams
1/2 avocado - 6.5 grams
1/2 cup dates - 6 grams
1 medium pear - 5.5 grams
1 medium mango - 5 grams
5 pieces dried figs - 5 grams
Grains, Cereal and Pasta:
1/2 cup steel cut oats - 12.4 grams
1 cup whole wheat spaghetti - 6.3 grams
1 cup cooked barley - 6 grams
3/4 cup bran flakes - 5.5 grams
1 cup brown rice - 3.5 grams
Legumes, Nuts and Seeds:
1 cup cooked split peas - 16.3 grams
1 cup cooked lentils - 15.6 grams
1 cup cooked black beans - 15 grams
1 ounce chia seeds - 11 grams
1/2 cup edamame - 8 grams
2 Tbsp. flax seeds - 4 grams
23 almonds - 3.5 grams
Maintaining a nutrient dense diet is vitally important as we age. A quality diet has a huge effect on your physical condition, cognitive condition, bone health, eye health, vascular function, and your immune system!
Never underestimate the power of sound nutrition in improving the aging process and living a long and healthy life!
Deb Seely, RN