by Laura Purcell
As we age, our bodies undergo changes that can affect our nutrient needs. It’s important for older adults to pay attention to their diet to ensure they’re getting enough essential nutrients. Here, we’ll discuss some of these important nutrients for older adults and their food sources.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for maintaining strong bones by enhancing the absorption of Calcium and Phosphorous, and supports a healthy immune system.* While our bodies naturally produce it when exposed to sunlight, older adults may experience reduced sun exposure and decreased ability to synthesize vitamin D. Fortunately, there are several food sources that can help us meet our vitamin D needs. These include fatty fish like salmon, fortified dairy products and egg yolks. It’s important to ensure we get enough vitamin D to help maintain bone health and support a healthy immune system.*
Calcium is not just for strong bones; it’s one of the most important minerals our bodies need.* Alongside supporting bone health, calcium plays a vital role in heart health, muscle function, and nerve transmission.* Luckily, there are plenty of tasty food sources that can help us meet our calcium needs. Think of dairy products, leafy greens like kale and broccoli, fortified plant-based milk, and tofu.
Vitamin B-12 is an important nutrient that our bodies need for a healthy nervous system, development and regeneration of red blood cells, and energy metabolism.* Animal products like meat, fish, and eggs come to the rescue as excellent sources of vitamin B-12.
Iron is an essential mineral that our bodies rely on for key functions. It is a vital component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in our blood, and it also plays a key role in energy metabolism.* To maintain adequate iron levels, it is important to include iron-rich foods in our diet, such as lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes, fortified cereals, and leafy greens.
Omega-3 fatty acids are “good” fats essential for heart health and circulation.* Omega-3s aren’t made by the body, and older adults may have lower omega-3 levels due to dietary choices. Fatty fish like salmon and sardines, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and soybeans all supply omega-3 fatty acids. Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. See the supplement facts panel of the specific product for omega-3, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol content.
Maintaining a well-balanced diet is critical for older adults to support overall health. Incorporating a variety of nutrient-rich foods into your daily meals can ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs. Consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized guidance. Remember, a healthy diet is key to enjoying a vibrant and active lifestyle as we age.