Health Topics

Nutrition in Your Golden Years

Nutrition in Your Golden Years

It is always important to make sure you maintain your health. Taking the right supplements and eating healthy foods will keep you energized throughout the day, and your life.

Who Needs Vitamin/Mineral Supplements?

Some people may have slight nutrient deficiencies due to illness, surgery or other conditions. These people may need vitamin or mineral supplements because their condition may alter their appetite, limit their food choices or impair their nutrient absorption. Many older adults need more calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12.

What Vitamin/Minerals Should I Take?

Select a single, balanced multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. Choose one that provides no more than 100 percent of the daily values (DV) of most nutrients listed. Avoid supplements that contain extra ingredients such as choline, lecithin, herbs and enzymes. These ingredients add to the cost but have no proven nutritional value.

How Do Antioxidant Vitamins Work?

When the body burns oxygen to produce energy, free radicals (oxygen byproducts) are formed. These free radicals can damage body cells and tissues, which may lead to the onset of serious health problems.

Antioxidant vitamins (vitamins C, E and beta-carotene) serve to neutralize free radicals and thereby counteract their potentially damaging side effects.

Should I Take Antioxidant Supplements?

Currently, there continues to be debate about taking antioxidant vitamin supplements. There is uncertainty about how much of the antioxidant supplement is enough and how long you should take it, as well as the potential side effects of long term-use.

Which Foods Are High in Antioxidants?

Incorporate vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene into your diet regularly. You can do this by eating certain foods, including:

  • Vitamin C — Citrus fruits, berries, melon, red and green peppers, dark leafy green vegetables, potatoes and tomatoes
  • Vitamin E — Vegetable oils, margarine, salad dressings, whole grain products, wheat germ, seeds, nuts and peanut butter
  • Beta carotene — Sweet potatoes, carrots, mangos, green leafy vegetables, red and green peppers, apricots, cantaloupe and tomatoes

Are All Brown Breads Whole-Grain?

No. Only breads labeled "whole wheat" are made from 100 percent whole-wheat flour. To choose breads with more fiber, compare nutrient labels and select those breads made with whole-wheat or other whole-grain flours.

Should I Take a Fiber Supplement to Promote Regularity?

Fiber-rich foods are preferred over fiber pills and powders for promoting regularity. High fiber foods provide nutrients that fiber supplements do not. Fiber supplements bridge the gap between the amount of fiber that you need and the amount of fiber you get from your foods each day.

What is the Benefit of Soy?

Researchers are studying the potential benefits of substances, called isoflavones, found in soy products. Soy may play a role in reducing the risk for breast cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. Soy beans are also a good source of fiber.

Which Fluids are Best?

Plain water is usually your best choice, but juice and milk also are good choices. Juices offer vitamins, and milk provides calcium (avoid using juices and milk as thirst quenchers if weight loss is your goal). Also, limit those beverages high in caffeine and sugar, such as coffee, tea, regular soft drinks and alcohol.