We all know that as we get older, our body does not perform as it did when we were younger. It’s harder to wake-up, fight off colds, and chase after our children or grandchildren. Science has shown that this is because as we age, our body losses the ability to retain many essential vitamins and minerals.
But by increasing our intake of these three essential nutrients, it’s possible to live a longer, healthier and happier life.
As we age, there is a reduction in our total body protein. According to the National Institute of Health, this reduction is manifested as a decrease in skeletal muscle, organ tissue, blood components, and immune bodies, and can cause issues such as loss of skin elasticity, interfere with wound healing, and an unbalanced immune system. Therefore, it is highly important that we increase our protein intake with age.
Recent research shows that the adequate intake level for adults over the age of 50 without kidney disease or diabetes is 1.0 to 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight. This level is optimal to maintain good muscle mass and bone health, prevent bone fractures, and improve your resistance to anxiety, depression, and stress. Protein is found in red meat, fish, beans, peas, eggs, milk, and cheese. Plant-based proteins are less expensive than meat and can be as good for your bank account as your health.
An average elderly person is in negative calcium balance and therefore constantly losing bone mass. As we age, we have a reduced calcium absorption rate due to many factors such as the overall decrease in appetite, less exposure to sunlight, a decrease in the efficiency of kidneys to retain calcium, and estrogen withdrawal in menopause. Calcium is highly important as we age as it maintains our bone health and reduces the risk of falls and fractures by 20%. It also helps to prevent bone-related illnesses such as osteoporosis. To compensate for the low calcium absorption rate, seniors should consume about 1,200 mg of calcium a day.
The optimal levels of calcium can be found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. If you’re tired of dairy products, calcium can also be found in non-dairy products like tofu, broccoli, kale, collard greens, and almonds. Mixing up your diet and trying vegetables you haven’t had before will help to stick to a diet.
Iron is found in red blood cells, which oxygenate your body, and is also essential to increased energy levels. It is the leading single nutritional deficiency in the world, and although seniors need less iron, it becomes harder to absorb with age. This can be due to frequent blood drawings and certain diseases and chronic conditions that may decrease iron levels. Men and women over the age of 50 should consume about 8 mg of iron per day. Iron manifests itself in two different types. Heme iron can be absorbed by our bodies better and is found in animal meats such as red meats, fish and poultry. Non-heme iron is harder to absorb and is found in plant-based diets to include lentils and beans.