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Vitamin Supplements for 65+

Among other major life changes, such as retirement and Medicare enrollment, those aged 60+ years have nutrition needs different from those in their 20s, 30s and even 40s.

Nutrients of Concern

Those aged 65+ are at increased risk for nutrient deficiencies, particularly water (yes, water is an essential nutritient), vitamin 12 and folate; vitamin D, calcium and zinc. As you age, your organ function begins to decline, resulting in an increased risk for developing chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure. A healthy, nutrient-dense diet is essential. As your body’s own natural antioxidant system becomes less effective, you need to increase your intake of antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene, vitamin E and C).

General Dietary Supplement Criteria – Choosing a Vitamin

Among those MVIs marketed toward the ’50+ crowd’ look for options that offer 100% of the RDA or AI (recommendation) for vitamins C, E, B12, B6 and folic acid, as well as for the minerals selenium and magnesium. Many MVIs fall short on magnesium. Look for one that contains at least 100 mg (25 to 33% of your daily requirment). There is evidence that vitamin K may be important  for older Americans, so look for a MVI that offers about 25 mcg (except if you take Coumadin or another blood thinning medication). Vitamin K interferes with blood-thinning medications. The nutrients mentioned above are especially important for bone health, heart health and energy metabolism.

Potassium and Other Minerals

Choosing foods rich in potassium, such as many fruits and vegetables, is important because potassium (along with calcium and magnesium) may reduce blood pressure and potassium is a major mineral, needed in large quantities. While widely found in the food supply, it is the #1 nutrient deficiency in the U.S. Vitamins and minerals are best absorbed and used by your body when obtained from whole foods. However, if you wish to take a multi-vitamin/mineral (MVI) supplement, choose wisely.

Vitamin D and Calcium

In most cases, you shouldn’t rely on your MVI dietary supplement to meet your needs for calcium and vitamin D. There isn’t enough room in the pill itself for the calcium required for most Americans. Choose a calcium + vitamin D supplement and take it separate from a multi-vitamin. The recommended dosage is at least 1,000 mg calcium and 400 I.U. vitamin D but most research has indicated that the vitamin D recommendation may be too low, especially if you do not get adequate sun (UVB) exposure; about 15 minutes per day of direct sunlight.

Vitamin A and Iron

Vitamin A intakes in the elderly are generally below the current standard of 800 – 1,000μg per day. Despite these low intakes, liver stores of vitamin A are well preserved with advancing age so supplementation would be more detrimental in elderly persons than in younger persons because of a diminished ability to clear this vitamin from the body, leading to potential toxicity (hypervitaminosis A). Nowadays, the majority of the vitamin A in most MVIs is in the form of beta-carotene (about 75% of the vitamin A), a vitamin A precursor found in abundance in your orange and dark green veggies and some fruits. In addition, MVIs designed for this age typically contain little or no iron as this mineral can be stored in the liver. Iron overload is known clincally as hemochromatosis.


Amazing Waves of Grain…

You know all about whole grains, right? Brown rice, whole wheat bread AND oatmeal fit the bill. But…what else is out there that can pump up both the variety and the nutrition of the grains you, and your family, choose? Try out the hottest trends in the grain family: quinoa, amaranth and spelt.

Quinoa: a grain known to come in multiple colors and textures

Quinoa has been cultivated in the South American mountainous regions for over 5,000 years as a staple of the native Indian diet. Although considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables. It is birdseed-shaped and mild-flavored. Use it as a substitute for rice in casseroles, in soups and stews, or as a hot cereal. Unlike all other grains mentioned, quinoa is a high-quality protein source, containing all of the essential amino acids, like protein in animal products. A 1/4 cup of this grain, dry, provides 170 calories, 2.5 g fat, 30 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber and 7 g protein.

“Quinoa contains 700% more iron than the same serving size of enriched white rice! It’s a protein-rich grain, and a good source of calcium.”

Amaranth: a high-protein grain

Amaranth is technically both a vegetable and a grain (leaves of the plant are the vegetable and the seeds are the grain). It has been cultivated as a vegetable crop by early civilizations over 2,000 years ago, and continues to be used world-wide. However, it didn’t gain support in the U.S. until 1975.

Amaranth can be cooked as a cereal, popped like popcorn, sprouted, or toasted and is a good source of protein, calcium and iron. Seeds can be ground into flour for use in baked goods or pasta. Amaranth flour must be mixed with other flours when baking yeast breads (1 part amaranth flour to 3-4 parts other flours) but for non-yeast baked goods (flatbreads and pancakes), you can use 100% amaranth flour. A 1/4 cup, dry, provides 190 calories, 3.5 g fat, 34 grams (g)  carbohydrate, 7 g dietary fiber and 8 g protein

Spelt: a zinc-rich slow cooking grain

Spelt, a distant cousin to wheat, has a deep nutlike flavor.

“Interestingly, spelt does not seem to cause sensitivities in most people who are wheat intolerant.”

Spelt is available in flour form and is available in its hulled, whole grain form (referred to as spelt berries), which can be prepared and eaten like rice. Spelt is an excellent source of zinc, vitamin B2 and manganese. Use spelt bread for a hearty sandwich or combine spelt pasta with olives, tomatoes and feta cheese for a quick and easy Mediterranean dish. Be adventurous and add some tasty ‘old’ grains to your diet! A 1/4 cup, dry, offers 150 calories, 1.5 g fat, 32 g carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber and 6 g protein.

Tips for Eating Meatless ~ Tofu and Soy Crumbles

One important step towards eating healthier and watching your calories is to eat one meatless meal per week. What to do? It’s easy. I enjoy eating meatless meals because it keeps my diet varied versus boring and stale. Here one tip I use myself that will get you started!

Try tofu and soy crumbles.

    These are mild-tasting and absorb the seasonings and flavor of whatever you cook them with. Perfect for tacos or spaghetti as a meat replacement.

While tofu can be an acquired taste for some, it comes in many varieties and flavors, and can be grilled, sautéed, scrambled…even fried or stir-fried. Tofu comes in firm and soft textures (soft is a great protein addition to smoothies) and is often used as an ingredient. I bought an all-tofu decadent chocolate cake from a gourmet bakery. It was completely all natural and vegan. Guess what? My non-vegetarian, hates health food brother in law didn’t know the difference! They used silken tofu in the cake, and yes, it can be that good.

A meat-lover wouldn’t even know the difference, with soy crumbles that is. They used to be packaged as a grain-like product that needed to be re-hydrated to take form.

“Now, frozen, bagged, re-hydrated soy crumbles (textured vegetable protein) can be found in the frozen food section and poured into your favorite spaghetti sauce or chili recipe.”