Getting enough essential nutrients is key to healthy aging, but with all the conflicting advice out there, it can sometimes be hard to know what to eat. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be complicated! There are a few key nutrients that all older adults should incorporate into their diets for optimal health.
1. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin that sometimes gets overlooked in the discussion of key nutrients for older adults. Also known as cobalamin, B12 is an essential nutrient that helps nerve cells function normally and keep blood cells in top health. Adequate B12 intake produces enough red blood cells to avoid megaloblastic anemia, which could potentially cause feelings of weakness and fatigue. Your body doesn’t product this nutrient on its own, which is why the proper vitamin B12 dosage for senior citizens is so important. Whether you take supplements, get an injection or simply eat more B12-rich foods like beef liver, milk or nutritional yeast, it’s important to stay on top of your B12 consumption to avoid a possible deficiency.
2. Calcium & Vitamin D
While these are two separate nutrients, they actually work together for better bone health because vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium. In other words, if you’re taking calcium, be sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, too, otherwise you might not be getting everything you need from the supplement. You can also easily meet your calcium needs by consuming about three servings of calcium-rich foods daily, like dairy products, canned oily fish and dark leafy green vegetables. Rich vitamin D sources include eggs, salmon and several types of fortified foods, including many breakfast cereals.
You may already know that eating enough fiber helps you stay regular, but you might be surprised to learn that a diet rich in fiber could also potentially help lower your risk for both type 2 diabetes and heart disease. There are fiber supplements available over-the-counter, but the best way to get enough fiber in your diet is to eat plenty of naturally fiber-rich foods. These include legumes like beans and peas, whole-grain products and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. As a bonus, foods that are rich in dietary fiber tend to come chock-full of other healthy nutrients, too!
4. Healthy Fats
Finally, even though you may have heard that fat is bad for you and should be avoided, this is actually not true across the board. In fact, there are certain types of fats, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, that your body needs and that are great for you. Opt for healthy sources like fish, nuts, seeds and avocados. If possible, avoid foods high in saturated or trans fats to protect your heart health.
Eating right is an essential part of staying in top health as you get older. The good news is, older adults can usually easily cover their bases by eating a wide range of healthy foods and supplementing as needed. Be sure to incorporate these key nutrients into your daily diet and you can feel good about nourishing your body for years to come.