While there's still some reticence surrounding aging, the topic is becoming less taboo by the day—which is good since it's something all of us experience! While a lot of aging-related health information is overblown (studies show your metabolism doesn't actually slow down due to age until 60, and then very slowly), there's no question there are nutrients out there that play a role in keeping us healthy as we get older, helping us improve our well-being inside and out.
A lack of calcium can result in numerous difficulties as you age, including weaker bones, abnormal heart rhythm, tingling sensations in the fingers, and an increased risk of fractures. As you get older, your body won't metabolize calcium the way it used to, causing current stores to be removed from your bones. This is especially an issue for females.
Keep your skeleton going strong by consuming dairy products such as milk, cheese, and calcium-fortified juices and cereals, or load your salads with leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, turnips, and bok choy.
Protein is one of the most important building blocks, helping maintain muscle mass as you age so you can hang onto your mobility. Not only that, but ensuring you eat the right amount of protein can help reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure in the future.
It's easy to load up on this popular macronutrient, whatever your dietary preferences or restrictions. Poultry, eggs, seafood, nuts, seeds, lean meats, legumes, quinoa, and tofu are all rich in it, and a combination will ensure you're getting all nine amino acids. Make protein about 1/4 of your plate, and savor the strengthening benefits.
Since your body doesn't make vitamin D on its own, you need to obtain it from sunlight or dietary sources. Many older adults don't get as much vitamin D as they should since they spend more time indoors or have limited mobility, but you don't need to go on a three-hour hike to get your fill.
Consume vitamin D-fortified milk and juices, eggs, cheese, and seafood such as salmon, swordfish, and tuna. Doing so will drive down your risk for troubling conditions such as hypertension, osteoporosis, and cognitive decline.
Healthy fats are especially vital during later life as your metabolism starts slowing down. Consuming monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats helps lower disease risk, protect against heart disease and stroke, and may even lower your chance of developing certain cancers.
Examples of foods to incorporate into your diet include those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, cheese, eggs, and canola, olive, and sunflower oils.
Once you approach middle age, your body's ability to absorb this immune-boosting ingredient slows down. Since it's limited to sources such as citrus fruits, fatty fish, liver, and dark leafy greens, you can squeeze this important nutrient into your lunch or dinner routine.
B6 is also paramount to the proper function of your central nervous system, so obtaining a healthy amount is an absolute must. If you're worried your intake is too low, talk to a doctor about getting a blood test. They might recommend a supplement.
Vitamin B12 helps define who you are, as it aids in both DNA synthesis and the formation of the red blood cells that keep you alive. Deficiencies can cause distracting issues such as brain fog and fatigue that can interfere with your day-to-day life.
The easiest way to add this nutrient to your meals is through animal products, as B12 is found in meat, eggs, and fish. Plant-based eaters can find it in sources including tempeh and nutritional yeast.
Reduce your risk of kidney disease, osteoporosis, stroke, arrhythmia, and muscle cramps by incorporating some extra potassium into your diet. It helps regulate many parts of your body, from brain to nervous system function, making it vital for overall health.
Research shows that older adults with potassium-rich diets are at lower risk of many major health conditions, so join the club by stocking up on avocados, bananas, beans, lentils, potatoes, dried fruit, winter squash, beans, plus flavorful greens such as broccoli and spinach.
Magnesium levels are just another nutritional element that naturally declines as we grow older, but it's critical to incorporate this nutrient into your diet. A deficiency could put you at risk for a range of mental health concerns, not to mention high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
Ensuring you're consuming meals filled with whole grains, greens, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and dark chocolate might help stabilize your mood, among other benefits. If you are dealing with any lasting mental health symptoms, though, go talk to a doctor.
Did you know that consuming more folate now could help lower your risk of Alzheimer's? This mental health powerhouse ensures that your nervous system functions properly through the decades, helping balance everything from mood to brain health.
Keep your mental aptitude sharp with a diet that's high in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Excellent sources of folate include asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beets, citrus fruits, eggs, and legumes.
Dietary fiber helps break down and metabolize your meals while maintaining proper bowel health, reducing your risk of hemorrhoids, lowering your cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and helping maintain a healthy weight.
Research has even shown that a high-fiber diet can lower your cancer risk, improve brain function, and prolong your life. Load up on fiber-rich foods, including whole grains, berries, avocados, apples, nuts, beans, and broccoli.