Friday, April 06, 2012

Vitamins for the over-70 crowd

I am becoming a little more nutrient-conscious. I am still a believer in the fact that the plate beats the pill--people eat FOOD, not nutrients.

But when my nails start flaking sideways or my hair losing its grip, I do pop some biotin, a B vitamin.

As we age, we absorb vits less easily—those timed release ones may be a waste of money—too hard to break down.

Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, recommend older people eat a variety of foods high in nutritional value, including cereals fortified with such nutrients as folic acid, which can help prevent heart attacks.

Dark green, orange or yellow vegetables (frozen are fine) contribute Vitamin C, folic acid, Vitamin A, and fiber.

The “gassy” veggies, such as kale, cabbage, beets, and broccoli contain antioxidants, which may cut cancer risk.

Fish provides essential fatty acids such as Omega 3, which is much in the news these days. Beans provide protein. Lean cuts of meat chip in zinc and iron.

How about Vitamin D—all the rage these days? Vit D is needed for strong bones. Calcium also affects heart health and blood clotting. The minimums have been raised from 200 to 600 IU (International Units) for D and from 800 to 1200-1400 mg/d (milligrams per deciliter) for calcium.

You can get this much calcium from eating three portions of milk or hard cheese or yogurt a day, but this does not take care of the Vitamin D. You may not be out-of-doors enough to gen up Vitamin D within your body—which takes 20 minutes a day in the sun, no sunscreen. So your doctor may test your Vitamin D levels and recommend a daily dose of a form of calcium your body can use.

What about just taking a multivitamin?

Some researchers recently scoffed at the habit of taking a multivitamin every day, but for older people, who may wish to cut their total food intake or are frail or homebound, a multi can be good insurance—rather than producing the “expensive urine” some jokesters talk about.

This is making me hungry—don’t know about healthier.

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