1. Add B12 to your daily supplements
B12 supports healthy nerve and blood cells and is needed to make DNA. B12 is primarily found in fish and meat. It is bound to a protein in food and must be released from it by digestion in the stomach. As we age, our stomach acid decreases, making it more difficult to absorb nutrients such as B12.
Older adults are at a greater risk for B12 deficiency, but adding the vitamin to your diet in a supplemental form (either by pill or shot) can help prevent symptoms — which can take years to appear — well before they start.
2. Really cut back on salt
The older we get, the more likely we are to develop hypertension (high blood pressure) because our blood vessels become less elastic as we age. Having high blood pressure puts us at risk for stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease and early death.
About 72 percent of salt in the American diet comes from processed foods. You should significantly decrease and ideally forgo your consumption of processed foods (chips, frozen dinners, canned soup, etc.) and aim for 1500 mg or less sodium per day, which is about ½ tsp. You can start adding flavorful herbs in place of salt when you cook at home. Many herbs provide anti-cancer benefits as well; oregano, thyme, and rosemary are all high in antioxidants. Ditching processed food also means consuming more whole foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This will increase your fiber consumption. Fiber helps you stay fuller longer, meaning you’ll eat less throughout the day and be more likely to maintain your weight.
3. Check your multivitamin for Iron — and toss it if it has it
The average woman experiences menopause and the cessation of her menstrual period around age 50. After menopause, the need for iron decreases to about 8 mg of iron a day. While the body can’t live without iron, an overabundance can be dangerous as well. Iron toxicity can occur because the body doesn’t have a natural way to excrete iron; too much can cause liver or heart damage and even death. Postmenopausal women should take iron supplements only when prescribed by a physician. If your multivitamin has iron in it, replace it.
4. Pay more attention to calcium and vitamin D
Due to gastric and hormone changes, D levels and calcium absorption tank around age 40. Furthermore, evidence shows that postmenopausal women have an increased risk of osteoporosis because of their lack of estrogen. To make matters worse, after 50, the body will break down more bone than it will build. This puts women over 50 at risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures.
It’s ideal to consume adequate calcium before age 30, but it’s never too late to increase rich calcium sources in your diet. Fabulously delicious sources of calcium include sardines (a double dose of omega 3 through the fish and calcium through the bones), spinach, broccoli, kale, and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt. In addition, your physician should test your vitamin D levels and provide additional supplementation as needed (vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium).