Eating a well-balanced diet is important at any age, but becomes even more so as you get older. Healthy eating can protect you from cognitive decline, help you maintain a healthy weight, and boost your energy levels. It can also lower your risk of developing cancer and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
With the help of Dr Stephanie Rubino from Whole Earth & Sea, we’ve looked at the key nutrients you need to maintain good health as you age.
Calcium is super important for strong bones, but as you age, your ability to absorb calcium from food decreases, Rubino explains. If you’re not getting enough calcium, your body takes the calcium it needs from your bones, which in turn can lead to weakened bones or osteoporosis. However, combining calcium with vitamins K2 and D3 ensures that calcium is absorbed easily and reaches the bone mass.
“Deficiencies in calcium and vitamins K2 and D3 can also have negative effects on our immunity,” Rubino adds.
The main foods rich in calcium are dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt, while vitamins K2 and D3 are mainly found in certain animal foods, such as egg yolks.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient linked to so many incredible health benefits. It not only helps you maintain good health in general, it can also support bone and muscle health, lower cholesterol and decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Magnesium is also important for your heart, brain and nervous system, and is associated with a reduced risk of depression.
Magnesium can be found in a variety of foods such as leafy greens, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains and some fatty fish.
According to Rubino, B vitamins are a must for energy production.
“Our bodies need adequate amounts of B vitamins to produce energy from the foods we eat,” she says.
B vitamins are also essential for heart function, brain health and healthy nerve cells. To up your B vitamins intake, focus on dairy products, red meat, chicken and eggs.
“For women looking for additional anti-ageing support, antioxidants like vitamin C and alpha-lipoic acid are important,” she says.
Vitamin C – or ascorbic acid as it’s also known – is a key anti-ageing skincare ingredient that can help boost collagen production, leading to firmer, healthy skin that has fewer wrinkles. The antioxidant is found in many different fruits and vegetables such as oranges, limes, lemons, berries, kiwifruit, blackcurrants, tomatoes, broccoli and capsicum.
Meanwhile, alpha-lipoic acid has been linked to multiple health benefits, including lower blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation and slowed skin ageing. Spinach, broccoli and potatoes are good sources of alpha-lipoic acid.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral that assists with cognitive function and prostate health.
“Selenium acts as an antioxidant, has anti-ageing properties and plays an important role in reproduction,” Rubino explains.
Fish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken, liver, garlic and brazil nuts are great sources of selenium.
Many people think of lutein as ‘the eye vitamin’ as it helps maintain good eye health and prevent eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Key sources of lutein include kale, parsley, spinach, broccoli and pears.
Health experts have lauded the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for years. Some of the benefits include supporting mood disorders, improving eye health, promoting healthy brain ageing, reducing inflammation and supporting joint health, Rubino says.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables.
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