For a long time, researchers were focused on the ratios of nutrients for optimal health. Until recently, it was believed that meeting some general guidelines for carbohydrates, fats, and protein sources sufficed. Now we know that the story is more complicated.
Especially for senior healthy living… Nutrients needed at different times in life can have powerful effects – sometimes favorable, sometimes adverse. That’s why what you eat needs to be tailored to your stage of life.
The body utilizes vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus, essential for maintaining and building strong bones. Vitamin D is also beneficial in reducing inflammation and improving muscle function.
Older adults are at high risk of low vitamin D levels due to inadequate intake and decreased exposure to sunlight. Studies show that older adults with low vitamin D levels have an increased risk of falls, fractures, muscle weakness, cardiovascular disease, and cancer compared with those who have normal or elevated levels of vitamin D in their blood.
As we age, our skin produces less of the precursor form of vitamin D (7-dehydrocholesterol) to enable it to convert into its active form (vitamin D3), which can be obtained from food sources (such as fish), fortified foods, or supplements.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is essential for maintaining a healthy skeletal system. As you age, your body’s ability to absorb calcium decreases, and your bones become more vulnerable to fractures.
Calcium also plays an essential role in preventing osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become brittle and break easily due to low calcium levels.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that adults over 50 get 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day from food sources such as dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and canned fish with bones.
Vitamin B-6 is a water-soluble vitamin that helps convert carbohydrates into energy, and it also plays a role in protein metabolism, brain function, and normal growth and development.
Vitamin B-6 is found in a wide variety of foods. Good sources include beans, liver, fish, chicken, spinach, and other leafy greens.
Vitamin B-6 deficiency is rare in healthy people who eat a balanced diet; however, deficiency may occur in alcoholics or people with malabsorption disorders (such as celiac disease).
Vitamin B-6 supplements may be recommended for people with low vitamins in their blood. Such supplements can be used for:
Treating specific conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome or high homocysteine levels.
Preventing or treating seizures associated with epilepsy when other medications don’t work well enough.
Helping reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by improving homocysteine levels (although this theory has not been proven).
Vitamin B-12 is found in animal products, so vegetarians and vegans need to get this nutrient from other sources. Vitamin B-12 is essential for maintaining healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. It also helps maintain healthy DNA synthesis, necessary for cell division and growth.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to anemia (lack of red blood cells), neurological problems such as cognitive decline or memory loss, and even permanent nerve damage.
Vitamin B-12 is found in animal products like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. However, it’s also available as a supplement that you can take in pill form or add to foods like yogurt or cereals.
Fiber is a type of plant food that your body can’t digest. Fiber passes through your intestines and promotes regularity, and prevents constipation. Fiber also helps lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, aid in weight loss, and improve digestion.
The recommended daily fiber intake is 25 grams for men and 21 grams for women. However, most Americans only consume about half of this amount daily.
Eating foods high in fiber can help you feel fuller longer, making you less likely to overeat throughout the day. It’s essential to aim for a variety of fiber-rich foods and not just rely on one source such as whole grains or beans because these foods have different types of fiber with varying levels of effectiveness.
Protein is an essential nutrient for seniors and people of all ages.
Protein is necessary to maintain body tissues, including muscles, bones, and skin. Protein is also needed to make enzymes, hormones, other body chemicals, and some blood components.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Twenty-two different amino acids can be combined in various ways to form proteins.
While most foods contain some protein, certain foods contain higher amounts than others. Meat, poultry, and fish are high-protein foods, and dairy products such as milk and cheese also have high protein levels.
Eggs are another excellent source of protein for people over age 65 who eat three servings of low-fat dairy or lean meat daily due to the increased risk for osteoporosis.
Magnesium is one of the essential minerals for senior health. Magnesium helps with more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body and is vital for strong bones, nerve function, and muscle contraction, including heart muscles.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), magnesium also plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels and can help prevent diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Magnesium deficiency may contribute to high blood pressure and some types of headaches, while other research suggests that magnesium helps reduce depression symptoms.
Magnesium supplements are available over the counter at drugstores or through your doctor. You should always talk with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Live a Long and Healthy Life
Whether you’re over the age of 65 or if you have an elderly family member, nutrition is critical for senior healthy living.
These tips can help your senior citizen make better nutritional choices, ensuring a long and healthy life. Use them now so that you won’t be using them for yourself one day!Claudio Alegre is the CEO & Chief Content Writer for Angel Home Care Services on the Web and Patient and Family Advocate off the Web. He lives in Miami with his wife and 3 boys. He's passionate about healthcare and all things caregiving. He can be reached at [email protected] or directly at 305.220.4544
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