September – Nutrients for Healthy Aging
- In healthy aging, it is important to consider the nutrients of concern in older adults!
- Find seasonal recipes to celebrate fall fruits and vegetables.
September – Nutrients for Healthy Aging
In healthy aging, it is important to consider the nutrients of concern in older adults!
“Nutrients of Concern” are dietary components that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have identified as at risk for underconsumption. There are a few nutrients of concern that apply to everyone, but additional nutrients may be highlighted for specific life stages.
For older adults specifically, these nutrients deserve some extra attention:
- Calcium & Vitamin D – To help reduce bone loss and maintain adequate bone strength and density, older adults need 1200 mg of calcium and 20 mcg of vitamin D. Calcium can be found in dairy products, fortified plant-based milks, fortified cereals, 100% fruit juices, dark leafy green vegetables, and canned soft-boned fish, while vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, fortified dairy and plant-based milks, fortified cereals, eggs, supplements, and some multivitamins.
- Potassium – Potassium is an essential mineral for many bodily processes! For older adults, getting enough potassium can reduce risks for high blood pressure, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and stroke, and improve bone health and blood glucose control. Adult men generally need 3,400 mg of potassium per day, while non-pregnant adult women generally need 2,600 mg of potassium per day. Many foods, including dark leafy greens, legumes, tomatoes, avocados, potatoes, and squash, are good sources of this nutrient.
- Dietary Fiber – Fiber not only helps us stay regular, but it can help decrease risks for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Generally, adult men need 30 g, while adult women need 21 g of dietary fiber per day. Get your daily fiber in with some whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and most fruits and vegetables (like raspberries, pears, green peas, or broccoli).
- Protein – As we age, we naturally lose lean muscle mass. To curb this loss, it is essential that older adults meet their protein recommendations. 5 to 6.5 oz of protein foods are recommended each day. Protein can be provided by animal sources—like lean meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy—and plant sources—like beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy products.
- Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 helps maintain your blood and nerve cells and plays a role in making DNA, but as we get older, our ability to absorb this vitamin decreases. Non-pregnant adults generally need 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 a day. Vitamin B12 is found in many animal-sourced protein foods, including lean meats, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy, but you can also obtain this nutrient from fortified cereals, nutritional yeast, or supplements.
- Fluid Intake – Did you know that the sensation of thirst tends to decline with age? To prevent dehydration, aim to drink eight 8-oz glasses of water a day or choose unsweetened beverages, like fat-free milk, 100% fruit juices, 100% vegetable juices, and even some low-sodium soups.
Remember, these nutrients alone are not the end-all-be-all of healthy aging; they simply complement a balanced diet and an active lifestyle, and it is never too early to start building those healthy habits.
Seasonal Foods and Recipes
Some inspiration just for you!
Want to check out what’s in season? These resources can tell you exactly what fruits and vegetables are available where you live, at what time of year, and what recipes they work perfectly in!
Kale Pesto is a great way to sneak in some extra leafy greens into your meal rotation. Pair this with a whole grain pasta and it makes for a perfect entrée!
Broiled Sardines with Lemon and Thyme:
Broiled Sardines with Lemon and Thyme is a must-try! Not only is it delicious, but soft-boned, fatty fish like sardines are jam-packed with calcium, vitamin D, protein, and healthy fats!
Black Bean Salad:
This colorful Black Bean Salad makes for a protein and fiber-packed side at your summer cookout.
Give breakfast a flavorful twist with this delectable Shakshuka. This dish can offer you a little bit of calcium, vitamin D, potassium, protein, AND vitamin B12 before you even start your day!
Have you ever tried Briam? This traditional potassium-loaded Greek roasted vegetable dish is made with potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and onions!