by Vanessa Voltolina
As we age, our bodies require different amounts of certain nutrients to stay healthy.
What’s the best way to obtain the vitamins and minerals you need? Maintaining a balanced, well-rounded diet, say the experts.
If you can’t eat certain things because of absorption issues, you may need to take physician-recommended dietary supplements. Here are three essential nutrients you need now to help stay strong and healthy into your 40s, 50s and beyond:
Vitamin D and Calcium
Essential for … Bone Health
You’ve probably heard of osteoporosis, a bone-weakening disease that’s becoming an epidemic in the U.S. Although the ailment most often affects women (10 percent of women over 50, in fact), it turns out that 2 percent of men over the age of 50 suffer from it too.
The good news: Adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium can help you maintain strong and healthybones, according to a study in Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management journal. Just be sure you’re getting enough of both calcium and vitamin D — calcium won’t be absorbed without the power vitamin.
Do this now:
If you are between 51 and 70, aim to get 600 IU of vitamin D per day and 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium per day from your diet. Good sources of calcium and vitamin D include dark greens (kale, collard greens, spinach), soy beans, some fish and calcium-fortified orange juice, milk and cereals.
Essential for … Regular Digestion
Fiber not only helps keeps you regular — it also may help support normal cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and can assist in weight maintenance. Men and women between 51 and 70 should consume at least 30 g and 21 g fiber per day, respectively, says the Institute of Medicine. Just remember: If you’re ramping up fiber intake, also up your water intake.
Do this now:
Begin starting your days with a fiber-packed bowl of cereal (one to try: Kellogg’s® All-Bran® Bran Buds®), and munch on fiber-rich grains and veggies for the rest of the day.
Vitamin B6 and B12
Essential for … Healthy Blood
Your blood supplies oxygen and nutrients throughout your entire body, so you want to make sure your blood is getting what it needs to do its job. Two key players in blood health are vitamin B6 (which helps make the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in red blood cells) and B12 (which helps form red blood cells). In fact, a lack of either B6 or B12 in your diet can result in anemia, which includes symptoms such as tiredness, headaches and trouble thinking.
Do this now:
Up your intake of vitamin B12-rich noshes (salmon, trout, red meat and low-fat dairy), as well as food high in vitamin B6 (legumes, whole grains, nuts, meat and poultry). Both vitamins may also be found in fortified breakfast cereals. So, make a big salad with all of the fixin’s, or consider a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk for breakfast or at snack time!
Vanessa Voltolina is the managing editor of Healthy Starts Made Simple. A former digital editor at AOL Health and NBCUniversal, she has contributed to such national outlets as Weight Watchers, HuffPost Healthy Living and Spa Finder Wellness. She specializes in health, nutrition, fitness and lifestyle content and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in clinical nutrition at New York University