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Maintaining Good Nutrition as You Age

Art Aiello |
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Art Aiello is a writer and editor based in Waukesha, WI. 

There is much discussion on the national stage about childhood obesity and ensuring that children get a diet that will meet their nutritional requirements while helping them to maintain a healthy weight. Healthy eating, however, is not limited to children and young adults. As we age, our bodies change and so do our nutritional requirements. Understanding how best to provide our bodies with the nutrition it needs as we get older is key to maintaining good health.

As we age, our metabolism tends to slow down, we move less and have less muscle mass. That means we need fewer calories, in general, but we still need a diet that is rich in the nutrients. Much of what you’ve already known to be nutrient-rich foods — fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, fish and lean meats — are still the order of the day. However, as we get older, our bodies need more of some nutrients as well as assistance in getting others.

Consider vitamin B-12, for example, which the body requires for effective brain and nerve function, among others. Adults over 50 can sometimes have trouble absorbing B-12 due to a decrease in stomach acid. You can ensure you get enough vitamin B-12 by eating lean meat, poultry, fish and fortified foods like cereal.

Vitamin D is another nutrient that becomes more difficult to get as you age, because our skin creates it through exposure to sunlight. As we age, though, our skin becomes less effective at that task. Vitamin D affects our ability to absorb calcium, which can affect bone health. Oily fish, such as salmon, is a great source of vitamin D, and should be part of your diet if it isn’t already.

One piece of advice that might seem like a foregone conclusion given how much we focus on it as a component of weight loss is ensuring that you drink enough water. This is not a problem for many of us, yet as we age, we might take less notice of thirst. As such, it’s important to ensure that you keep yourself properly hydrated.

Some other nutritional advice — again, not out of the ordinary — is to avoid foods with a lot of processed sugar as well as those that are very high in sodium. Sodium intake should be of particular interest to those with high blood pressure or kidney disease. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommend that adults over 51 years of age consume no more than 1500 milligrams of sodium each day.

So what can you expect to gain from following a healthy diet? There are of course no guarantees, but a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that in general, older men and women who adhere to a healthy diet enjoy lower death rates due to cardiovascular disease and cancer than those who have a less healthy diet. Additionally, good nutrition has been linked to reduced risk of stroke, diabetes, anemia and other health issues associated with getting older.

These are just some general guidelines. Always consult your doctor about your specific dietary needs as well as whether or not you require a dietary supplement to help support your nutrition goals.

Have you made some positive dietary changes recently? We’d love to hear your stories. You can share with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Note: Motivo, makers of the Tour, does not provide medical advice. The information on this blog and site is general information for educational purposes only. Please consult your physician for any specific medical needs.