In this article: Defy the aging process by arming your body with its best line of defence.
Defying The Aging Process With Nutrition
Proper nutrition can defy the aging process in many ways. First, nutrients help prevent disease. Second, proper nutrition supports the body’s health and general function helping its ability to remain strong, vital and in good shape no matter your age.
Eating right is key in staying healthy, and at age 50 nutrient needs change from what you may have needed in your younger years.
Key vitamins and minerals are needed for skin health, to protect from the top killers of women, such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke, and even to manage symptoms of menopause.
Never underestimate of sound nutrition in improving the aging process and living a long and healthy life.
17 Key Nutrients For Women Age 50 And Older
- Daily Requirement: 1,200 mg
Calcium is essential for strong bones, which helps to prevent osteoporosis. Furthermore, calcium builds strong teeth, serves the body in blood clot function, and helps to maintain a regular heartbeat.
Foods rich in calcium:
- Collard greens
- White beans
- Fish: sardines, salmon, rainbow trout and perch
- Calcium-fortified foods including oatmeal, cereals and orange juice
- Daily Requirement: Age 50 to 70: 600 IU; Age 71 and older: 800 IU
Vitamin D helps prevent osteoporosis by supporting the absorption of calcium, which helps keep bones strong. It also maintains brain and mental health, and reduces the risk of depression. Vitamin D can also control blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
It may play a vital role in diminishing inflammation, as well as protecting the body against numerous chronic diseases.
Getting enough vitamin D is easy if you spend at least 10 to 15 minutes in the sun daily; you can also get it form diet and vitamin supplements.
Foods rich in vitamin D:
- Fatty fish, such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon
- Vitamin D fortified foods, such as cereals, dairy products, orange juice, soy milk
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
- Daily Requirement: 1.2 mg
Vitamin B1 or thiamine is needed for the health of the brain and nerve cells and it assists the body in converting food to energy.
Caution: certain diuretics and antacids may lower levels of thiamin in the body by decreasing its absorption and by increasing its secretion through urination.
Vitamin B1 Food Sources:
- Enriched breads
- Enriched cereals
- Whole grains
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- Daily Requirement: 14 mg
Vitamin B3 is needed for proper digestion and nervous system functioning. It supports the skin’s ability to retain moisture, which helps the body fight against viruses, bacteria and other antigens.
Niacin also helps the skin slough off dead cells, allowing for newer cells to surface for more radiant and younger looking skin.
Vitamin B3 helps the body convert food to energy. It also helps to raise good cholesterol (HDL), while reducing levels of the bad type (LDL) decreasing risks of heart disease, strokes, and atherosclerosis.
Foods rich in niacin:
- Enriched breads
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Daily Requirement: 1.5 mg
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) helps keep the brain healthy and functioning at its best. This nutrient also plays a crucial role in the metabolic process and how the body turns food into energy by helping break down proteins and maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. It helps the body with hemoglobin production.
Foods rich in vitamin B6:
- Lean meat
- Daily Requirement: 2.4 mcg
Vitamin B12 helps in the production of red blood cells and DNA. It also helps maintain healthy nerve function and aids in the metabolic process. It’s essential for brain health and blood function. Some studies show that vitamin B12 can boost concentration levels, treat memory loss, and uplift your mood and energy levels.
One major concern of vitamin B12 is that as many as 1/3 of people over age 50 are unable to absorb it from diet, which can lead to neurological and balance issues. Use of certain medications, such as those often taken by older populations may lead to the interference of how B12 is absorbed and metabolized in the body.
Foods rich in vitamin B12:
- Lean meat
- Daily Requirement: 400 mcg
Folic Acid, or vitamin B9 reduces the risk of anemia, helps build a healthy brain and spinal cord as well as create red blood cells. It also helps with the production of both DNA and RNA, which are the cells’ building blocks, and in building new tissue. Folic acid helps prevent the changes in DNA that can lead to cancer.
Studies have shown folate acts similar to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which can help ease menopause related hot flashes by interfering with the monoamine neurotransmitters, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
Foods rich in folic acid:
- Dark leafy vegetables
- Olive oil
- Citrus fruits
- Brussels sprouts
- Peanut butter
- Fortified grains
- Black and kidney beans
- Daily Requirement: 90 mcg
Vitamin K helps with the process of blood clotting; helps reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s also important for building and maintaining strong bones. It interferes with blood thinner medication so be sure to ask your doctor.
Foods rich in vitamin K:
- Brussels sprouts
- Daily Requirement: 75 mg; smokers need 110 mg
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps erase and prevent the damage brought upon by free radicals. It also helps heal wounds, aids in the production of red blood cells, and boosts the levels of a brain chemical called noradrenaline, which makes you more focused and alert. Vitamin C also promotes healthy gums and teeth, facilitates the absorption of iron by the body, and helps maintain a healthy immune system. For the aging woman, vitamin C helps support healthy eyes.
If applied directly on the skin, it helps protect the skin against the harmful effects of the sun. It also gives the skin a more youthful look by improving the production of collagen, the building block of firm, radiant skin.
Foods rich in vitamin C:
- Bell peppers
- Citrus fruits
- Daily Requirement: 700 mcg
The aging process makes it increasingly important to increase intake of antioxidants in order to maintain healthy cells, protect against numerous diseases and inflammation, and to keep skin healthy and youthful. Vitamin A is crucial for healthy bones. It is also important for healthy immunity and eyesight.
When applied topically, face creams with vitamin A (retinol creams), help reduce signs of sun damage, dark under-eye circles, and fine lines.
Foods rich in vitamin A:
- Milk and fortified milk
- Dark leafy vegetables
- Red peppers
- Daily Requirement: 15 mg
Vitamin E is an important fat-soluble antioxidant that helps to neutralize the harmful after-effects of fat oxidation, and stops the production of free radicals that contribute to chronic disease and aging. Vitamin E also promotes a healthy immune system. Studies are researching its possible role in preventing degenerative dementia conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies have shown it to help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis by lowering LDL levels. It may also protect the body against the spread of cancer cells by neutralizing the harmful effects of free radicals and may protect from heart disease.
Vitamin E is often used in facial creams to moisturize skin and repair dryness, it also used in sunscreens to protect the skin from harmful UV rays.
Caution: Talk to your doctor if you take blood thinners, as vitamin E supplements increase bleeding risks.
Foods rich in vitamin E:
- Mustard Greens
- Turnip Greens
- Swiss chard
- Plant oils
- Raw seeds
- Pine Nuts
- Daily Requirement: 320 mg
More than 350 enzymatic functions require magnesium to properly function, such as maintaining a healthy heart, strong bones, metabolism, healthy functioning of nerves and muscles, and regulating blood pressure and blood glucose levels. It also helps with the absorption of calcium in the body. Magnesium may help prevent type 2 diabetes. It also helps maintain healthy heart rhythm. For women, it reduces risks of high blood pressure.
Foods rich in magnesium:
- Dark leafy greens
- Whole grains
- Daily Requirement: 4700 mg
Potassium is a mineral that is crucial for optimal muscle, heart, kidney, and nerve function. Potassium works with sodium to help maintain the body’s water balance.
It keeps bones strong, helps maintain healthy cell function, and regulates blood pressure levels. It helps reduce the risk of kidney stones, regulates digestion, aids in metabolism, boosts energy, and decreases muscle spasms.
In aging especially, this mineral can help reduce risks for heart disease, which is the #1 killer of women in the United States, and it also plays a role in stroke prevention.
Foods rich in potassium:
- Potatoes with skin
- Sweet potatoes
- Daily Requirement: 8mg
Research published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry reports that zinc deficiency can develop with age, and may lead to weakened immunity and promotes inflammation, which is known to trigger aging of the body and chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Ask your doctor to assess whether you need a supplement.
Zinc also helps to maintain a sense of taste and smell. It aids in would healing and some studies have shown a combination of antioxidants and zinc might reduce risks for age-related macular degeneration.
Foods rich in Zinc:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Cooked spinach
- Wheat germ
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are monounsaturated healthy fats.
- Marine forms contain EPA and DHA and are found in oily fish
- Plant forms contain ALA or alpha-linolenic acid and are found in plant foods, including oils, seeds and nuts
EPA AND DHA can lower elevated triglyceride levels, which reduce risks for heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids lower bad LDL cholesterol and elevate good HDL cholesterol. These fats also help reduce risk factors for cancer.
Consuming more omega-3 fatty acids helps with menopause related mood swings and may help prevent depression and depressive symptoms.
Omega 3’s may also sharpen brain function. EPA and DHA found in fish oil helps relieve joint pain and stiffness in those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. These nutrients also boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
ALA helps reduce inflammation and may prevent chronic disease, including arthritis and heart disease, though ALA is not nearly as potent as the marine sources of omega-3’s, EPA and DHA.
While, no final conclusions have been made, some promising research exists that omega-3 fatty acids may help protect against dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease, and also positively, impact age related gradual memory loss.
Good sources of EPA and DHA:
Experts recommend two servings of fish each week
- Wild Caught Salmon
- Lake trout
Good plant sources of ALA:
Enjoy healthy fats in moderation daily
- Olives and olive oil
- Walnuts and walnut oil
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Flaxseed and flaxseed oil
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
- Fortified eggs
Enjoy vegetables liberally
- Brussels sprouts
- Daily Requirement: 8mg
Iron is an important mineral found in the red blood cells of the human body, which transport oxygen. Iron deficiency can lead to a condition known as anemia, where there is a reduction in healthy levels of red blood cells. Iron also lowers risks for certain diseases and promotes healthy immunity.
Foods rich in iron
- Red meat
- Beef and chicken liver
- Dark green leafy vegetables including spinach and kale
- Dried fruit including apricots and raisins
- Iron-fortified bread, pasta and cereals
- Daily Requirement: 21 grams
While digestive health and regularity are probably its best known benefits, fiber offers additional key benefits for good health, especially as it relates to aging. Fiber helps to reduce risks of developing type-2 diabetes and studies have shown fiber to lower blood pressure.
Fiber keeps you full longer so you eat less, this helps support a healthy weight, which is key in healthy aging in avoiding the many serious chronic diseases that result from obesity, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and joint issues, just to name a few.
According to research compiled from the Blue Mountains Eye Study by Professor Bamini Gopinath (Westmead Institute for Medical Research Centre for Vision Research) there is new evidence that fiber supports and promotes what researched dubbed as “successful aging,” which the researchers defined as the absence of brain impairment, depression, disability, respiratory problems, cancer, coronary artery disease, and stroke.
The study examined more than 1,600 adults all ages 50 and older and focused on exploring the relationship between the intake of carbohydrates in diet and healthy aging. Factors examined included total fiber intake, total carb intake, glycemic load and index and sugar intake. The study found that fiber intake made the greatest difference in “successful aging.”
The researchers found that those study subjects who had the highest intake of fiber had an almost 80% greater likelihood of enjoying a long and healthy life, devoid of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, depression, dementia and disability throughout a 10-year follow-up.
Foods Rich In Fiber
- 1 medium artichoke, boiled – 10.3 grams
- 1 cup acorn squash – 9 grams
- 1 cup green peas – 8.8 grams
- 1 cup broccoli – 4 grams
- 1 cup turnip greens – 5 grams
- 1 cup parsnips – 7 grams
- 1 cup Brussels sprouts – 4.1 grams
- 1 sweet potato with skin – 4 grams
- 1 potato with skin – 2.9 grams
- 1/4 cup tomato paste – 2.7 grams
- 1 medium raw carrot – 1.7 grams
- 1 cup collard greens or Swiss chard – 4 grams
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes – 3.5 grams
- 1 cup cauliflower – 2.1 grams
- 1 cup eggplant – 2.5 grams
- 1 medium mango – 5 grams
- 1 cup raspberries – 8 grams
- 1/2 avocado – 6.5 grams
- 1/2 cup dates – 6 grams
- 1 medium pear – 5.5 grams
- 1 medium apple – 4.4 grams
- 1 medium banana – 3.1 grams
- 1 medium orange – 3.1 grams
- 5 pieces dried figs – 5 grams
- 1 cup strawberries halves – 3 grams
- 1 cup guava – 9 grams
Grains, Cereal And Pasta
- 1/2 cup steel cut oats – 12.4 grams
- 1 cup whole wheat spaghetti – 6.3 grams
- 1 cup cooked barley – 6 grams
- 1/4 cup wheat bran – 6 grams
- 3/4 cup bran flakes – 5.5 grams
- 1/4 cup spelt – 5 grams
- 1/4 cup millet – 4 grams
- 3 cups air popped – 3.6 grams
- 1 cup brown rice – 3.5 grams
- 1 slice rye bread – 1.9 grams
- 1 slice whole-wheat bread – 1.9 grams
Legumes, Nuts And Seeds
- 1 cup cooked split peas – 16.3 grams
- 1 cup cooked lentils – 15.6 grams
- 1 cup cooked black beans – 15 grams
- 1 cup cooked lima beans – 13.2 grams
- 1 cup baked vegetarian beans – 10.4 grams
- 1 oz. chia seeds – 11 grams
- 1/2 cup edamame – 8 grams
- 2 tbsp. flax seeds – 4 grams
- 23 almonds – 3.5 grams
- 49 pistachio nuts – 2.9 grams
- 19 pecan halves – 2.7 grams
- 1/4 cup hemp protein powder – 7 to 13 grams
- 1/2 cup whey protein powder – 24 grams
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. Every possible effort has been made in preparing and researching this article.