What your body needs as you get older

As we age we generally need more vitamins and minerals due to decreased absorption, slowed metabolism, changes in body composition and increased needs such as bones. We discuss all the important vitamins and minerals and how you can give your body enough of them so that your body is fully supported.

As you get older, you may lose more of this mineral than you absorb. This can make your bones weaker (osteoporosis), especially in women after menopause. Calcium helps your muscles, nerves, cells and blood vessels function properly. You get it largely from your bones, which get it from food. Women over 50 and men over 70 should consume about 20% more than other adults. Milk, yogurt and cheese are good sources.

Vitamin B12
It helps in the production of blood and nerve cells. You get it naturally from animal foods such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. "B12-fortified" foods such as breakfast cereals can also be a source. Most people get enough of it, but age can change that. Up to 30% of people over 50 have atrophic gastritis, which makes it harder for your body to absorb it from food. Some medications and weight loss surgeries can also contribute to a B12 deficiency.

Vitamin D
Your body needs it to absorb calcium. So take them together to prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin D also helps your muscles, nerves and immune system function properly. Most people get some vitamin D from sunlight. But as you get older, your body is less able to convert sun rays into vitamin D. It is more difficult to get this vitamin from food, but oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are a good source.

Vitamin B6
Your body uses it to fight germs and produce energy. It also helps babies' brains grow. As you get older, you need more B6. Some studies have found links between high B6 blood levels in the elderly and better memory. But the vitamin does not appear to improve the mental abilities of people with dementia. Chickpeas are an easy and inexpensive source. This also applies to liver, oily fish and fortified breakfast cereals.

It helps your body make proteins and bones and keeps your blood sugar levels stable. As we get older we often get too little magnesium from our food and medication can also cause a deficiency. We get Magnesium from nuts, seeds and leafy vegetables.

These "friendly" bacteria are good for your intestines. You get them from fermented foods like yogurt or sauerkraut, or from supplements. They can help with digestive problems such as diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome, and may even protect against allergies. Probiotics are probably safe if you are healthy. But talk to your doctor first if you have any medical problems or a weakened immune system.

Omega-3 fatty acids
These fatty acids are called "essential" because your body cannot produce them. They are important for your eyes and brain. They can also help protect against age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's, arthritis and macular degeneration, which can cause blindness. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you can get omega-3 fatty acids from foods such as oily fish, walnuts, canola oil or flaxseed.

Many American seniors don't get enough of this underappreciated micronutrient. It helps your sense of smell and taste and fights infections and inflammation - all important tasks in older bodies. Zinc can also protect your vision. Oysters are by far the best source of this mineral. Otherwise, you can get it from beef, crab, and fortified breakfast cereals.

It protects your cells from damage and infections and keeps your thyroid functioning properly. Selenium can also keep your muscles strong and help prevent age-related diseases such as dementia, certain cancers and thyroid disease. Just one or two Brazilian nuts per day should be enough.

Potassium plays a role in almost everything in your body, including your heart, kidneys, muscles and nerves. It may also help protect against stroke, high blood pressure and osteoporosis. Many people don't get enough of it. Dried apricots, bananas, spinach, milk and yogurt are good sources.

This natural form of vitamin B9 is found in leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and other foods. Pregnant women take a synthetic form of vitamin B9 called folic acid to prevent birth defects. Folate helps with cell growth and may protect against stroke and certain types of cancer. Most people get enough.

You probably know that fiber is good for you. But did you know that they are even more important as you get older? Fiber helps prevent strokes, ensures more regular bowel movements and lowers your cholesterol and blood sugar levels - big benefits for older bodies. Women over 50 should get at least 21 grams per day, while men need 30 grams, but most people don't get that. That equates to about 6-8 servings of whole grains or 8-10 servings of vegetables.

Where do you get all these vitamins and minerals?
Getting the most out of food can be a challenge, especially if, like many, you don't eat a fully balanced diet. You are most likely to be deficient in vitamin D, potassium, calcium or dietary fiber. If you think you need more than you can get from food, supplements may be the perfect addition. Needs are very personal, what exactly you need depends on your lifestyle. Metis Personalized is a supplement that can determine these needs based on questions and thus give you the perfect selection in a handy daily sachet.

Pharmacist Dirk
Founder Metis Supplements

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